The objective of this thesis was to explore themes related to socioeconomic
academic achievement gaps among Korean elementary students. Focus is on
Korean parenting strategies and how they affect their children’s academic
achievement at different levels of socioeconomic status.
The literature review gives historical background on how the current
Korean after-school educational culture evolved into its current form, including
how Korean educational welfare policies shaped the current public after-school
system. The literature review also gives background information on Korea’s afterschool participants and parental perspectives on education.
The study’s research utilizes quantitative methods to establish a link
between parental academic support and academic achievement. The result was a
finding of lowered risk and higher academic achievement with higher levels of
parental support. Qualitative methods include interviews with parents, teachers,
and observations of public after-school programs.
(Keywords: Korean public schools, after-school programs, SES achievement gap)
David Pretre
May 2014
David Pretre
A thesis
submitted in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts in Teaching
in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development
California State University, Fresno
May 2014
For the Department of Educational Research and Administration:
We, the undersigned, certify that the thesis of the following student
meets the required standards of scholarship, format, and style of the
university and the student's graduate degree program for the
awarding of the master's degree.
David Pretre
Thesis Author
Jason Immekus (Chair)
Educational Research and
Walter Ullrich
Curriculum and Instruction
Frederick Nelson
Curriculum and Instruction
For the University Graduate Committee:
Dean, Division of Graduate Studies
I grant permission for the reproduction of this thesis in part or in
its entirety without further authorization from me, on the
condition that the person or agency requesting reproduction
absorbs the cost and provides proper acknowledgment of
Permission to reproduce this thesis in part or in its entirety must
be obtained from me.
Signature of thesis author:
My deepest appreciation goes to my wife; otherwise referred to in most of
this thesis as “the Korean co-researcher.” Literally not one page of this would
have been possible without her contacts, translation, and explanations of Korean
social contexts. Despite caring for our newborn child, she made every effort to
facilitate the completion of my degree. I will always remember her dedication and
I would like to thank my thesis advisor, Dr. Jason Immekus. His course
curriculum made every step of writing this thesis logical and without wasted
effort. Also, his meticulous and thorough critiques of my work were a mark of
true professionalism, and inspired me to create the best work that I could
My parents deserve a mention for their support during my master’s
program, and additional thanks goes to Tina Lount and Alpine Datalabs for
lending me the expertise and technology I lacked to fully analyze my data.
LIST OF FIGURES ................................................................................................ vii
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ............................................................................ 1
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ................................................................. 4
Historical Background ...................................................................................... 4
Welfare Action Zones: A Model for Korean After-School Programs .............. 5
Korea’s After-School Programs and Their Participants ................................... 7
Socioeconomic Perspectives Towards Education ........................................... 10
Conclusion....................................................................................................... 14
CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY.......................................................................... 16
Quantitative Methodology .............................................................................. 18
Summary of Goals........................................................................................... 19
Role of the Researchers ................................................................................... 19
Research Site ................................................................................................... 20
Participants ...................................................................................................... 20
Instrumentation ............................................................................................... 24
Procedures ....................................................................................................... 27
Analysis ........................................................................................................... 29
Limitations ...................................................................................................... 31
Qualitative Methodology ................................................................................ 32
CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS ................................................... 56
Results ............................................................................................................. 56
Discussions ...................................................................................................... 89
Conclusion..................................................................................................... 101
Policy Recommendations .............................................................................. 103
Recommendations for Further Research ....................................................... 106
REFERENCES ..................................................................................................... 108
APPENDICES ...................................................................................................... 111
APPENDIX A: STUDENT SURVEY ................................................................. 112
QUESTIONNAIRE ................................................................................... 119
APPENDIX C: CONSENT FORMS ................................................................... 122
Figure 1. Average test scores correlated with total parents score for all
students ................................................................................................... 29
Figure 2. Qualitative axial coding and theoretical framework .............................. 37
Figure 3. Correlation of Korean (literacy) test scores to parental support
(Public AS).............................................................................................. 57
Figure 4. Correlation of Korean (literacy) test scores to parental support
(Private AS) ............................................................................................ 57
Figure 5. Correlation of math scores to parental support (Public AS) .................. 58
Figure 6. Correlation of math scores to parental support (Private AS) ................. 58
Figure 7. Correlation of English test scores to parental support (Public AS)........ 59
Figure 8. Correlation of English test scores to parental support (Private AS) ...... 60
Figure 9. Correlation of average test scores to total parental support score
(Public AS).............................................................................................. 61
Figure 10. Correlation of average test scores to total parental support score
(Private AS) ............................................................................................ 61
Figure 11. Categorical achievement for “Low Parental Support/Public AS”
group ....................................................................................................... 63
Figure 12. Categorical achievement for "High Parental Support/Public AS"
group ....................................................................................................... 63
Figure 13. Categorical achievement for “Low Parental Support/Private AS”
group ....................................................................................................... 64
Figure 14. Categorical achievement for "High Parental Support/Private AS"
group ....................................................................................................... 64
Figure 15. Average parent scores in relation to achievement categories for
Public, Private, and Public/Private/Equal/None combined (All
Students) ................................................................................................. 65
This study focuses on the socioeconomic educational gaps between Korean
elementary students in relation to their access to quality after-school academic
programs, and the level of academic support they receive at home. Whereas afterschool programs in Western high schools are primarily intended either as an
intervention or social affiliation, in Korea they are an extension of most students’
school day that often persists into the evening (Park, Byun, & Jo, 2012). While
both public and private after-school programs are available, parents who can
afford the private option generally select it (Park, Byun, & Kim, 2011). Korean
education policy has invested significant money and effort into improving
educational opportunities for lower income students. Furthermore, Korean public
schools are appreciably invariant between high income and low-income districts in
terms of the quality of teachers and facilities (Woo, 2010).
However, despite their society’s efforts to create a “level field” large
performance gaps in achievement on (what is directly translated as) The National
Standardized Test between socioeconomic groups are a persistent problem for
lower SES students (Kim, 2012). High-stakes testing is the primary means by
which students gain their college admittance. Thus, while Korean efforts to
provide lower income students with a high quality educational experience are
laudable, advancements that do not improve test scores yield questionable benefits
for improving class mobility (Yang & Shin, 2008).
In this study we will examine the combination of factors that are trending to
limit the potential of education reform for improving class mobility in Korea,
focusing on the elementary level. At the root of this problem is the conundrum of
high stakes testing as the fundamental vehicle to higher socioeconomic status,
which is a situation that is not likely to change. While many reforms have been
implemented, such as access to after-school programs and low faculty/facility
variance between schools, scores on high stakes tests have not been significantly
statistically affected (Kim, 2012; Woo, 2010). Other methods of measuring have
yielded contradictory results, and researchers agree that more information is
needed to understand how to improve the prospects for low SES students (Bae,
Kim, Lee, & Kim, 2009; Park et al., 2012). The primary purpose of this study is
to contribute in providing such information.
Success stories, while statistically uncommon, are not complete outliers
(Lee, 2008). Some lower SES students have a combination of variables that do
lead to success. This study seeks to examine the relationship of after-school
activities with methods (and frequency) of parental academic support, and hopes
to find trends that point toward opportunities for academic achievement among the
lower income groups. We also hope to gain a better understanding of Korean
parents’ perception of their role in their children’s academic achievement at
different SES levels, and how the meaning derived affects families’ interactions
day-to-day. Preceding research has documented differences in the educational
services higher-SES parents provide for their children, and the state has attempted
to replicate these opportunities for their lower-income counterparts (Park et al.,
2011). Studies have also demonstrated that parents with different kinds of
sociological SES backgrounds have divergent perspectives in regards to their
involvement in their children’s education (Park & Ablemann, 2004; Yang & Shin,
2008). While these are all important factors in determining academic success, it
still leaves researchers with the potential to ask many questions. For instance, what
exactly are parents doing at home to help their children succeed? How, when
combined with students’ after-school activities, do their parenting strategies affect
their children’s performance on standardized tests?
Thus far, effective educational reform in Korea has included a component
of community outreach and the establishment of networks between schools,
community organizations, and parents (Kim, 2012). We hope to demonstrate
some simple forms of pedagogical participation that parents can engage in with
their children to improve their academic performance; leading to wider
understanding conveyed through these networks. All parents want their child to
succeed, and intuitively many realize that such activities as reading with them or
helping with homework are beneficial. However, in some cases calling attention
to these points and having them articulated may provide needed motivation to
parents to more actively participate in their child’s academic achievement.
Given the low amount of variance of faculties and facilities between public
schools, the main variables we are left with affecting student’s achievement are
their after-school activities and home environment. In order to better understand
the differences between the educational experiences of children at different
socioeconomic strata we will examine their supplemental academic programs,
differences in educational perspective, and parenting styles.
Historical Background
In the 1980s and early 1990s Korea was a meritocratic society, even more
so than the United States (Kim, 2012). It was a country where students could be
academically successful regardless of their family background, and these
achievements could greatly enable their class mobility. However, in 1997 a
combination of macroeconomic instability (e.g., corporate mismanagement,
currency manipulation) and austerity measures imposed by the IMF brought about
an economic crisis that triggered a reorganization of Korean society (Mok, Lawler,
& Hinsz, 2009). One consequence of the 1997 reforms has been a deepened gap
between the rich and poor, and the educational opportunities available to them
(Lee, 2009). The “July 30 Educational Reform” (enacted in 1980) which had
prohibited all kinds of private after-school education was lifted, opening the door
for a massive private after-school academy industry (Park & Ablemann, 2004). In
2008, Korean households spent over $17 billion in private educational services for
their children, or a conservative estimate of $200 per student per month. In Seoul
the estimate was closer to $550 per student (Park et al., 2011). This has created a
great deal of concern that educational opportunity and resources have become
increasingly dependent on one’s social and economic background, leading to a
reinforcement and intensification of Korea’s socioeconomic stratification (Kim,
These social ramifications have manifested in various ways. Residential
segregation by social class has resulted in schools being divided by differences
between socioeconomic groups (Kim, 2012). While public schools in Korea are
invariant compared with the American public school system, there are major
differences between the predominant level of education and income of the
students’ parents (Kim & Woo, 2010). A KEDI (2002) report exposed a plethora
of poverty related concerns affecting low-income students’ ability to cope with
school. Neglect due to intensive work schedules, malnutrition, broken homes, and
unstable emotional environments led to 35% of teachers in these low-income areas
citing “emotional problems” as their most serious educational obstacle. Even
parents who sought to support their children’s academic success did not know how
to help or how to connect with their schools (Lee, 2008). Growing public concern
over these conditions led to a political environment favoring “[Equal] Education
For All” and the establishment of Welfare Action Zone Policy (or the “Education
Priority Zone Plan”), which came into effect in 2003 (Kim, 2012). These welfare
action zones were selected in particularly afflicted areas of Seoul and Busan (Lee,
Welfare Action Zones: A Model for Korean AfterSchool Programs
The goal of Welfare Action Zone Policy is to help students in low-income
areas recover from their educational handicaps by creating a network for cognitive
achievement (Lee, 2008). This is a network of school-home-community; which
provides educational and cultural opportunities via cooperation of government,
private organizations, schools, and local communities. The goals of the EWPZP
are to use the network to improve educational achievement for disadvantaged
students. The conceptual framework by which it defines achievement is very
broad, covering academic, non-academic, intellectual, affective, and physical
achievement (Lee, 2008). Welfare Action Zone Policy also serves as an
ideological and practical blueprint for Korea’s more ubiquitous public afterschool
programs (Bae et al., 2009).
Schools are able to offer a wide range of programs designed to meet the
needs of their students. This can include, for example: carrying out such functions
as support for learning activities, the provision of cultural activities, support for
emotional and psychological development, and other extra-curricular educational
services (Lee, 2008). In the supplemental classes teachers are allowed greater
flexibility in devising curriculum based on the needs of their students (Kim, 2012).
Teachers are encouraged to frame the curricula around viewing the student as a
whole person, and not merely on standards based content. Cultural activities are
also offered, such as playing musical instruments, drawing, and creating pottery.
On the welfare aspect, outreach to students’ families has led to identification and
provision of things students need to improve their academic and social standing at
their schools. For instance contributing to a good study environment at home by
furnishing a desk or new school clothes can be provided, with the assistance from
a social welfare institution in their community. These kinds of changes in a
student’s school life have the ability to improve their desire to study and
participate in school (Kim, 2012).
A notable feature of the EWPZP is the effect it has had on the teaching
styles of participating teachers. In order to design curriculum and programs to
best serve their students they took special time to understand them. This research
took the form of interviewing and visiting their families, and afterwards teachers
emphasized that this new understanding of their students’ lives transformed their
conceptualization of their duties as teachers and their membership in society (Kim,
2012). Schools where the teachers assumed a greater degree of care pedagogy
(and the administration was supportive of this change) during the implementation
of the support programs were found to be the most effective (Lee, 2008).
Unfortunately, the results of the effectiveness of the EWPZP in improving
academic achievement have been mixed to inconclusive (Kim, 2012). While it
was possible to find examples of students who demonstrated remarkable
improvements in academic achievement (confirmed by national standardized
tests), these cases were not common. There were many students who showed
success despite having severe disadvantages, but their achievement was not high
enough to be measureable by standardized tests. Most of the success stories have
been qualitative, and acknowledged by the teachers who taught the students
directly (Kim, 2012). Changes in the level of general satisfaction and attitudes
towards school have been very positive, and increased participation in school
activities has been notable. One aspect of this has been a decreased stigmatization
of supplemental programs, where more affluent students have come to recognize
the quality of public after-school programs and no longer associate them to the
same extent with being disadvantaged (Kim, 2012). These positive responses have
led to the establishment of more programs, in keeping with the goal of relieving
the economic burden of families who are paying for similar private programs (Bae
et al., 2009).
Korea’s After-School Programs and Their Participants
Korea’s more mainstream after-school programs are based on the same
model as the EWZPs. Many of the same principles apply: offering flexible
teaching methods and curricula not permitted in the regular classroom
environment, offering educational opportunities to low-income or rural students,
and forming partnerships within local communities. These programs seek to also
accommodate middle class students in order to ease the financial burden of
attending private academies. For this reason Korean afterschool programs can be
seen to be actively competing with private after-school academies known as
hokwan (Bae et al., 2009). Students more active in public programs then private
ones are generally from lower income and lower educated households, thus
making the programs vehicles for enhancing education welfare and socioeconomic
equality (Bae et al., 2009; Park et al., 2012). In 2008, over half of all Korean
public school students participated in at least one public after-school class (Park et
al., 2012).
Korean after-school programs can be grouped into three large categories:
child-care programs, enrichment programs, and academic programs (Bae et al.,
2009). Child-care is generally only for the K-2 grades, and more academically
meaningful activities are provided for older students (Bae et al., 2009). Most
prominent academic areas are represented including math, English, and literacy.
Computer, art, and music classes are also common. Despite the convention that
the programs are for disadvantaged students, students from families from higher
incomes are prominently represented. One explanation for this is that students
from wealthier families are more likely to participate in all forms of after-school
activities, including formal after-school programs. Even so, children from lowincome and rural households have a greater tendency to utilize the public
programs. An exception to this tendency is highly at-risk students (lowest income
and from single parent homes), whom the programs have failed to reach. The level
of parent education has also been found to have a positive association with
participation in academic programs. Exceptions to this are highly Koreaneducated mothers, who are not satisfied with the quality of ASPs and prefer
hokwan. Another demographic factor is gender, where girls tend to participate in
academic activities and boys prefer coached sports (Bae et al., 2009).
The studies on the effectiveness of Korean after-school academic programs
have yielded similar (and equally inconclusive) results as that of the EWZPs (Bae
et al., 2009). Essentially, a favorable or unfavorable view can be decided
depending on one’s definition of “academic success”, which groups of students are
being measured, and the method of measurement. Standardized test scores have
shown little marked improvement as a result of attending ASPs (Park et al., 2012).
Results of quantitative studies are generally inconsistent, sometimes showing no
changes or even negative trends. Bae et al.’s survey of data from the 2008 Survey
on Private Education Expenditure showed positive correlation between ASP
participation and academic achievement across all age groups, with greater
improvement noted among lower socioeconomic groups. Using Korean English
Language Survey data, Woo and Lee’s 2010 study (as cited in Park et al., 2012)
demonstrated that students' participation in ASPs resulted in improving their
academic achievement in English at the middle school level. Huang, Leon, La
Torre, and Mostatavi employed a quasi-experimental design their 2008 study (as
cited in Park et al., 2012) using a 10,000 student longitudinal sample and
concluded that ASPs improved math achievement but not English-language
achievement. However, Byun, Kim, and Hwang’s 2010 study (as cited in Park et
al., 2012) accused the Huang et al. study of selection bias and criticized their
quasi-experimental research design. Instead they used the propensity scorematching model, which indicated that ASP participation had negative effects on
middle school students' academic achievement.
Lee, Hong, and Park’s 2005 study (as cited in Kim, 2012) that used both
quantitative and qualitative methods confirmed students' academic achievement
via qualitative evidence, but quantitative data in the same study did not support
these findings. This result trends toward the possibility that ASPs strengthen the
influence of public schools on student performance, particularly for
socioeconomically disadvantaged students. These low SES students may become
more academically orientated, even if this outcome doesn’t show up in
quantitative tests. Another unquantifiable benefit teachers reported were
improvements in the ASP participating students’ classroom and social skills,
which resulted in better relationships with these students. Also, perceived
effectiveness and quality of the free programs by the students and their families
was reported to be very positive (Kim, 2012).
Qualitative studies by J. I. Byun et al. (2009), S. W. Kim and Han (2008),
and H. W. Kim et al. (2008) also describe many benefits that do not necessarily
translate into improved standardized test scores (as cited in Park et al., 2012).
These include improved attendance, attitudes toward school, and other behavioral
outcomes. Additionally, Jeongwon Kim’s 2011 qualitative study (as cited in Kim,
2012) purported many holistic benefits of supplemental programs for low SES
students that categorically will not translate into higher standardized test scores.
Thus, while the ASP’s have been given generous governmental support based on
the assumption that there is a positive correlation between learning opportunities
and academic achievement, there is little conclusive evidence to back up this
presupposition (Bae et al., 2009). It is generally agreed that there is a need for
more research on the benefits and quality of Korean public after-school programs
(Bae et al., 2009; Park et al., 2012).
Socioeconomic Perspectives Towards Education
Korean parents share various commonalities. Their culture is embedded in
Confucianism, which carries very high expectations for children’s obedience (Lee,
Heekeun & Choi, 2012). Korean families share their sense of accomplishment,
thus the entire family unit shares the academic achievements of its children. In a
culture that does not value individuality in the same way as the west children are
seen as an extension of their parents, even as an extension of their bodies. This is
especially true of mothers, who do not identify as a separate person from the child
but as a dyad. Thus children do not make many choices for themselves, especially
in regards to education. Most Korean parents are overprotective and indulgent,
but this can quickly turn to severe sanctions over perceived disobedience or failure
(Yang & Shin, 2008). Among all socioeconomic classes English has a unique
importance among academic subjects, but the form this role takes varies
depending on class (Park & Ablemann, 2004).
Lower income Koreans suffer most of the typical problems associated with
poverty (Lee, 2008). Economic failure leads in many cases to single parent
households, adding to the “at-risk” factor. While during the 80s and early 90s
success stories of poor people from the countryside or low-income urban areas
raising themselves to high status were not uncommon, this is no longer the case.
The old saying that “a dragon pops out of a small stream”, meaning that an elite
or outstanding scholar can come from anywhere, is no longer held in popular
belief (Yang & Shin, 2008). Lower classed parents who do strive hard to improve
their child’s educational status in order to improve their future prospects are often
judged as (roughly translated) “overly ambitious” (Park & Ablemann, 2004). In
some cases lower income students are told by their parents to not study hard,
because they will not be able to afford advanced education (Lee, 2008).
Sometimes the exception to this academic disregard is English, because the
prospect of emigration to the United States seems to be the only means of aspiring
to a better life (Park & Ablemann, 2004).
Above the poverty line Korea’s Confucianism based philosophy is evident
in most households. Historically, literal-officials ruled the country and
traditionally their scholarly values are more important than technical or practical
knowledge. Knowledge is seen as the key to growth, so as soon as a child gains
some sense of the outer world their parents try to make them into a little scholar.
Confucianism holds that all people are not equal and traditional values hold that
with study comes rank. Parents who do not have university degrees perceive
many disadvantages in their lifestyle, even if they have well paying jobs (Yang &
Shin, 2008).
In Korea happiness is very intertwined with the perceptions of others. One
could be well off financially even to the point of owning their own business, but
without certain social markers related to their education (such as a university
degree or some amount of English ability) society will place a great deal of doubt
in that person’s happiness (Park & Ablemann, 2004). This leads to a life of
frustration, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness that people do not want to pass on to
their children (Park & Ablemann, 2004; Yang & Shin, 2008). It is indeed true that
any white-collar job requires a university degree, but the necessity of higher
education goes beyond that. It is a requirement in order to be treated as a decent
human being, and a student who fails to enter a university may be considered a
failure, useless, and a nobody who brings shame upon their family. Even the
primary level of education is considered to be a vehicle for college entrance. This
fosters a level of competition between classmates that discourages cooperation and
encourages selfishness as a means to survive (Yang & Shin, 2008).
Most students at this socioeconomic level and above have their afternoons
and evenings packed with extra-curricular classes, even children as young as third
grade. The most emphasized subjects are math and English, but more enrichment-
orientated subjects like music, taekwondo, and ballet are also typical (Park &
Ablemann, 2004). Middle class mothers often do not work full-time and have time
to do research on which academies to use and continually gather information on
their child’s progress from the teachers at the hokwan. This is in great contrast to
their highly minimal interactions with the public schools their children attend. A
primary reason for lack of direct participation that is Korean schools are highly
standardized and transparent, limiting the possibility of intervention in the formal
school environment (Park et al., 2011).
At the higher end of the socio-economic spectrum the pressures of
competition become even more intense. While most middle class parents feel
satisfied if their child is in the top 10% of their class and hope that they have a
good reputation in their chosen field later in life, more affluent parents emphasize
“being number one” as a primary academic goal (Yang & Shin, 2008). The
notable parental concern among middle class parents manifests as a highly
controlling manner towards the child’s psychological and behavioral academic
outlook. In the West a child might consider this a repressive violation of their
autonomy, which might have a negative effect on their emotional and academic
functioning. However, Confucian sociological norms do not have the same
perceptions of autonomy, and this level of psychological control does not seem to
lead to significant negative outcomes. It is likely to produce academic
achievement, and appears to contribute to good habits of self-regulation (Lee et
al., 2012).
Individual tutors are often employed, and study abroad is common (Park &
Ablemann, 2004). Families often compete for housing in upper-class
neighborhoods with high entrance rates into top colleges (Park & Ablemann,
2004). Staying at least 6 months ahead of their school’s curriculum is common,
and falling behind in school at any grade level can damage a student’s long-term
prospects. This leads to even further dependence on private after-school academies
(Yang & Shin, 2008). The after-school academies are also known as “cramschools” and are highly focused on standardized test performance (Kim, 2011).
Park and Ablemann (2004), as well as Yang and Shin (2008) have
characterized Korea as a society that places a high value on academic
achievement. They have painted Koreans as a people who see the value in
enabling all citizens with the opportunity to attain a quality education as a means
to attain a happy life. However according to Mok et al. (2009) these ideals have
been compromised by economic circumstances and questionable reforms. Despite
this situation, studies such as Hae-Young Lee’s (2008) assessment of welfare
action zones demonstrate that the Korean people have the political will to invest
resources and structure their educational system to promote a climate where the
potential for socioeconomic mobility exists for those belonging to lower-SES
classes. However, many studies have called into question the effectiveness of
programs designed to provide a high quality educational experience for lower SES
students, and positive assessments of public after-school programs tends to be
anecdotal or inconclusive (Bae et al., 2009; Kim, 2012; Park et al., 2011). It
should be also noted that such studies as Kim’s (2012) assessment of welfare
action zones and Bae et al.’s (2009) research on public after-school demographics
point out that many aspects of poverty (which could affect academic achievement)
are outside of the scope of the Korean public education system.
Research (e.g., Park and Ablemann, or Yang and Shin) has been conducted
that focused on Korean parental views of academic support for their children, but
such research tends to be qualitative and does not connect directly to an objective
assessment of the results of parenting styles in regards to academic achievement.
Where quantitative research has been directly correlated with after-school
academic activities and parental involvement it has focused more on motivation
(and some cognitive aspects of development) than directly on the main issue
facing Korean students: the ability to viably compete for college admittance via
high stakes testing (Kim, 2011; Lee & Choi, 2012; Park et al., 2011). In order to
help “connect the dots” of causality between after-school programs, parental
academic support, and achievement we need research focused on comparing these
elements of students’ academic lives depending on their economic circumstances.
While qualitative research is indispensible for gaining a clear understanding of the
stakeholders’ personal situations, there needs to be some quantifiable evidence
connected to it gain a clearer picture of what is happening within different groups
(in the case of this study, public and private after-school students) in terms of
parental support and academic achievement. This study seeks to utilize both
approaches using methodology based in Grounded Theory, while being mindful of
keeping a Phenomenological perspective in regards to cross-cultural understanding
of our participants.
The challenge of studying a highly (in some respects diametrically)
different culture from our own Western cultural perspective necessitated a
research conceptualization that would be emic in nature. Concepts such as
“parenthood” and “success” needed to be defined by the participants based off of
their own meanings and experiences rather than the researcher’s Western
assumptions. Based on our understanding of the two research methods, Grounded
Theory was the most practical approach to realizing our objectives, but we were
also mindful of some of the philosophical aspects of Phenomenology in our
perception of our relative relationship (and viewpoint) to our participants. This
study seeks to understand the process by which different socioeconomic groups
are experiencing disparate outcomes within a system that is striving for low
variance, and offer practical solutions to the lower performing groups. While
doing so we must assume to know nothing of the participant’s inner world; our
separate cultural upbringing leaves the researcher in a state of nescience that must
be accounted for in our research conceptualization.
Both Grounded Theory and Phenomenology are emic research approaches
by nature, but the sampling methods of this study and the process by which we
seek to formulate our theories are best served by a Grounded Theory design. We
sampled stakeholders whose viewpoint held pieces of the theoretical puzzle we
were attempting to formulate, and each set of participants were experiencing the
phenomena from a drastically different perspective (Starks & Trinidad, 2007). We
did initiate our study with a hypothesis or theory, and used each phase of research
to guide our objectives for the next phase of data collection. For instance, the
quantitative research design assumed a relationship between academic
achievement and direct parental support that was substantiated with one group’s
results but inconclusive with the second group. From this finding we sought
alternate conceptualizations of parental support (and other phenomena associated
with the variables) in our qualitative research that might discern missing or
immeasurable variables in our quantitative research design. Thus, as our theories
became more informed we became aware of what phenomena to explore in
follow-up, and adapted our research questions and coding accordingly (Starks &
Trinidad, 2007).
However, the practice in Grounded Theory of “bracketing”, whereby the
researcher sets aside but does not abandon their prior assumptions, is not (in our
opinion) objective enough in the case of an American researcher attempting to
understand Korean contextual phenomena (Starks & Trinidad, 2007). In this case,
the Phenomenological concept of a life-world becomes useful conceptual tool.
Von Eckartsberg (1998) defined a life-world thus:
The life-world comprises the world of objects around us as we perceive
them and our experience of our self, body and relationships. It is the locus
of interaction between ourselves and our perceptual environments and the
world of experienced horizons within which we meaningfully dwell
together. (as cited in Finlay, 2008, p.157)
This perception of reality (as lived and experienced) was described by
Todres et al. (2006) as a world “that appears meaningfully to consciousness in its
qualitative, flowing given-ness; not an objective world ‘out there,’ but a humanly
relational world” (Finlay, 2008, p.157). In respect to cross cultural studies, this
emphasizes that the dearth of commonality between the perspectives of a Western
researcher and a Korean participant is fundamental. Basic human interaction,
interpersonal relationships, and myriad other forms of contextual reality operate
differently between our cultures; thus we should make no assumptions and base
our inferences only on the information presented to us by our participants and
references (Merkin, 2009).
Our research model is analytical (as opposed to descriptive), and utilizes
both quantitative and qualitative approaches in a unified conception. We will
attempt to interrelate the interpretations gathered from our instruments in a way
that discerns corroboration and anomaly, using diverse methods to negate the
weaknesses inherent in individual instruments (Fisher & Stenner, 2011). For
example, our quantitative component provided an informative overview of
phenomena occurring in the target population without any hint to causality. The
qualitative interview with parents provided us with a more detailed picture, but
trends found in a sample size of three participants have more authenticity if
corroborated by the wider sample in the quantitative aspect of the study. Thus, our
qualitative research sought to inform substantive interpretations of measures and
statistics provided by the quantitative, while the quantitative attempted to address
the possibility that individual accounts may contain inconsistencies from the wider
population (Fisher & Stenner, 2011).
Quantitative Methodology
The quantitative element of this study utilizes a correlational crosssectional design. In this case the cross sectional element is attempting to compare
the correlation of parental academic involvement to students’ standardized test
scores between the groups of students who primarily attend private after-school
programs versus students who primarily attend public programs. Secondly,
descriptive statistics were used to understand academic achievement of students
with high and low parent involvement. For this study, levels of parent involvement
were based on scores on the parent survey above 10 indicating high involvement
and scores below indicating low involvement.
Summary of Goals
The goals for conducting this part of the study were:
 To gather data that may contribute towards answering the question: “Can
parental academic support help narrow the achievement gap between
Korean elementary students who attend public after-school programs, and
students who attend private programs?”
 To establish a general snapshot of the target population in terms of what
kinds of programs students demographically attend, and the levels of
parental support that are common in those demographics.
Applying data collection to the research question is a non-experimental
one-tailed design, which utilizes end of the semester test scores to measure the
dependent variable of academic achievement and a survey to measure the
independent variable of parental academic support. The survey is also an
instrument to separate students into their demographic groups in regards to their
after-school academic activities.
Role of the Researchers
The researcher is a native English public school teacher who has a vested
interest in quality supplemental programs (such as after-school programs or
summer/winter “camps”) and the future prospects of his students. He has served
in this capacity for 5 years. In so far as the respect and difference offered to the
researcher by the participating parties was concerned, his wife acted as a kind of
proxy in that regards. From this point forward in this study she will be referred to
as “the Korean co-researcher.” She has been an elementary in Busan for 16 years,
serving schools that ranged from low to mid-SES. Her position as a Korean
elementary teacher was instrumental in recruiting the researcher’s contact at the
school, a fourth grade homeroom teacher who in turn recruited the other fourth
grade teachers. All of the networking done in this study was accomplished via
similar methods.
Research Site
The school is located in a mid-SES residential neighborhood in Busan,
which is flanked by other middle class or higher-SES districts. About 850 students,
Grades 1-6 populate the school’s 32 classrooms (averaging about 27 students per
class). The researcher has been employed as a native English teacher there for 3
years. Besides the school 32 homeroom teachers, additional teaching staff
(including contract teachers for after-school programs) brings the number of
teachers to 42.
The quantitative participants in this study included four fourth grade classes
at an Elementary School in Busan, each consisting of about 25 students. The
classes are racially and culturally homogenous, and SES variance is not high (lowmid to high-mid SES). In the process of informally querying their homeroom
teachers about their classroom’s demographics the teachers stated that they did not
consciously differentiate students by SES, and from their perspective there were
not “groups” in the same sense as a teacher in a multicultural society like the US
would think of. In class, students are grouped in terms of aptitude on their
benchmark tests, or other aspects of their classroom efficacy. It should be noted
that the researcher and their teachers consider this particular year’s fourth grade
classes to be an unusually high achieving group of students.
Two students were removed from the sample because they were special
needs students whose test scores would not be relevant to the study, and another
student was removed because their survey did not appear to have been filled out
with good intent. Two students were removed because they entered their
identification number incorrectly on the survey and it was impossible to discern
their actual number. Twenty-one other students were removed because they opted
out in terms of providing consent. An initial test run was made using half of the
classes utilizing their mid-term test scores for correlation, then a second round was
conducted 2 months later that added the rest of the fourth grade classes at the
school to the sample size. The final semester tests were utilized for correlation for
the updated sample. In considering the optimal number of participants that should
hypothetically belong in a sample for this kind of analysis (given no limitations),
the answer boils down to “as many as possible”; the researcher would opt for
thousands of participants, and hopes that this demonstration might inspire a larger
similar study.
The method of sampling was convenience, as it is unlikely that this
research could be conducted at any other site other than the researcher’s school.
Korean public school teachers do not have the same freedom to be absent from or
leave their workplace as American ones, and getting permission from any
principal other than the one presiding over the researcher’s own school would
have been problematic. Fourth grade was chosen as a target population because of
a perception by the researcher that this age group would have the most measurable
aptitude via tests for an age group where parental involvement is still prevalent
enough to be measured by a simple survey.
The students were initially divided into four groups using survey data:
1. Public. This group primarily or exclusively gets their after-school
curriculum from free public programs (at least ¾). We assume that
most of these participants come from low-SES families. This group
consisted of 17 students (23% of the sample), with 7 girls and 10
2. Private. This group represents students who either primarily or
exclusively attend after-school programs private after-school
academies (at least ¾, with “all subjects hokwans” adding weight).
We can assume most of these participants are mid-to-high SES,
although a high-SES participant at the school site would be an
outlier. The group is made up of 41 students (56% of the sample),
with 17 girls and 24 boys.
3. Equal. This group had an even distribution of public and private
programs in the participants’ schedules. As such they could not be
used for comparison and were eliminated from the analysis. The
group consisted of five students (7% of the sample), with three girls
and two boys.
4. None. This refers to students who had no academic after-school
classes indicated in their survey, but this doesn’t imply they do not
attend after-school programs at all. Students who have sports, taekwon-do, music, or even computer orientated after-school programs
could also fall into this category. This group was not considered
applicable to the research design and eliminated from the analysis.
The group consisted of 10 students (14% of the sample), with 3 girls
and 7 boys.
The Public and Private groups used in the analysis consisted of 58
participants. In our first round of analysis we compared these two groups, utilizing
a correlation of their Korean (literacy), math, and English (EFL) standardized test
scores with a “parent score” also generated from the survey.
A second round of analysis of the data was conducted where participants
were divided into four groups, by dividing the Public and Private groups into subgroups based on low and high parental academic participation. This division was
done along the median of their parent scores (10). The resulting grouping
consisted of:
1. High Parental Support/ Private After-School. Students whose
primary source of academic after-school activity is private
(hokwans), and who have a high level of parental academic support.
This group consisted of 19 participants (34% of the sample), with 8
girls and 11 boys.
2. High Parental Support/ Public After-School. Students whose primary
or exclusive source of academic after-school activity is public
(public school programs) and who have a high level of parental
academic support. This group consisted of 7 participants (12% of the
sample), with 3 girls and 4 boys.
3. Low Parental Support/ Private After-School. Students whose
primary source of academic after-school activity is private
(hokwans), and who have a low level of parental academic support.
This group consisted of 20 participants (36% of the sample), with 12
girls and 8 boys.
4. Low Parental Support/ Public After-School. Students whose primary
or exclusive source of academic after-school activity is public
(public school programs) and who have a low level of parental
academic support. This group consisted of 10 participants (17% of
the sample), with 4 girls and 6 boys.
Pre-existing Data
Pre-existing data were utilized in the form of the standardized tests all the
participants take at the end of their first semester. All of the tests were identical
and designed by a committee consisting of the students’ homeroom teachers. The
tests were used as the measurement of the participants’ academic achievement by
virtue of being the most reliable and unobtrusive measurement available, and
because the primary vehicle of Korean SES mobility is based on performance on
standardized tests (Yang & Shin, 2008). All of the tests were on a 100-point scale,
and each test was made up of 25 items. Their homeroom teacher administered the
tests in the students’ homeroom over the course of 1 day.
A survey was administered to the participants via surveymonkey.com in the
school’s computer room. The researcher and Korean co-researcher designed the
survey. In keeping with standard practices using an existing survey would have
been far preferable, and efforts were made to find a pre-existing instrument.
However, the very specific nature of this query, the lack of similar research
(especially in English), and a commitment to make the survey unobtrusive and risk
free to the participants necessitated a custom survey design. Its purpose was to
ascertain the participants’ after-school programs, and gauge the level of academic
parental academic support they receive. The questionnaire was designed to be
finished in fifteen minutes or less by a fourth grader, and we sought to provide
questions that would strike a balance between gathering useful information
without encroaching into the participants’ personal lives. The low completion time
was considered important to ensure that the questionnaire was unobtrusive to the
participants’ classroom environment, and to lower the possibility of risk.
The survey consisted of two items that gathered information concerning the
participants’ after-school program activity, especially pertaining to specifying
whether classes were private or free public programs. These were used to create
the categorical groupings mentioned in Participants. The survey’s next seven
items were conceptualized as specifically tied to a specific subject in the preexisting data. The final item was a 5-part question to measure frequency of
outings the participants partake in with their parents to visit academically
orientated locations, e.g., historical museums, bookstores, libraries, etc. One item
that sought to gather information on worksheet tutors was partially discarded due
to a vague translation, but the part of the item that asked if parents helped the
participants with their worksheets was retained. Items were linked to the subjects
English (EFL), math, and Korean (literacy) to produce a “parent score” for each
subject to be correlated with the participants’ test scores in that area. The single
subject scores were also added together and correlated with an average of the
participants’ scores in all three subjects.
Korean parental support scores were weighed heavily towards the
frequency of the participants and their parents reading together at home (0pts.
=Never, 2pts. =Sometimes, 4pts. = Often, 6pts. = Usually). This is due to an
assumption that this particular activity not only greatly improves the participant’s
literacy; it also provides a psychosocial and emotional developmental element that
justifiably raises the overall parental participation score (Midraj & Midraj, 2011).
Frequency of trips to the library, bookstore, and historical museum (0pts. = Never,
1pt.= Sometimes, 2pts. =Often) were also tallied into the Korean parent score. An
item that measured the number of books (in Korean) available in the participant’s
home was eliminated, due to an underestimate of the average Korean household’s
number of books, and the availability of literacy materials via other means than
maintaining a personal family collection.
The English parental support score was generated by (a) the number of
English books (at around the participants’ level of difficulty) in their home (0pts. =
0-4, 1pt.= 5-12, 2pts. =12+), (b) frequency of parental help with English activities
(0pts. =Never, 1pts. =Sometimes, 2pts. = Often, 3pts. = Usually), (c) parental
participation with worksheets, which are either provided by a tutor or personally
by the parent (0-1pt.= No/Yes), and (d) frequency of trips to the English Global
Village in Busan (0pts. = Never, 1pt.= Sometimes, 2pts. =Often).
The math parental support score was generated by (a) frequency of parental
help with math orientated activities (0pts. =Never, 1pts. =Sometimes, 2pts. = Often,
3pts. = Usually), (b) parental participation with worksheets (0-1pt.= No/Yes), and
(c) frequency of trips to science museums (0pts. = Never, 1pt.= Sometimes, 2pts. =
Often ) This is admittedly the weakest link in the instrumentation, as there are very
few points in this area to generate a scale.
An overall parent score was summed to create a total score to compare to
the participants test scores (as described in Pre-existing Data) to draw correlations
between parental support and academic achievement. Specifically overall scale
scores could range between 0-27 points, based on the lowest and highest possible
student score. English (0-9 pts.), math (0-6 pts.), and Korean (0-12 pts.) parental
support scores were also correlated individually. The item of parents helping with
supplemental worksheets was intentionally carried over twice (from the math and
English scores) for a value of 0 or 2 on the overall parent score.
It should also be noted that two open-ended items were provided at the end
of the survey giving the participants their own opportunity to define academic
achievement and the best means to accomplish it. While test scores are a
convenient and practical measurement, it was deemed necessary to allow the all of
the stakeholders in this study the opportunity to define academic achievement and
support in terms of their own worldview.
Pre-existing Data
The school’s principal and homeroom teachers granted permission for the
use of the school’s test data. Participants spent a full school day in testing, which
consisted of English (EFL), math, Korean (literacy), science, and social studies.
Tests were administered in their homeroom by their homeroom teachers, and also
graded by the teachers. The researcher had no involvement with this process and
was not present. Data were presented to the researcher 3 days after the test. No
names were included with this data, only student identification numbers.
The school’s principal and homeroom teachers granted permission for
administering the survey to participants. A parental permission form was sent
home ensuring the voluntary nature of the survey, anonymity of the students, and
outlining the nature of the items in the questionnaire. They were informed that
these would be correlated with test scores, but that the participants’ anonymity
would be maintained throughout the process. Students were assured that they
could opt out of the survey at any time, including while they were completing it.
Also, they were informed that their homeroom teacher would never see the results,
and that the researcher would have no way of identifying the participants. Korea’s
IRB board was contacted to gain clearance, but we were unable to obtain a
Students filled out the questionnaire in the computer lab (via
surveymonkey.com) with the researcher and their homeroom teacher present.
Students were spaced out with one computer between them in order to prevent
neighboring participants from seeing responses. About 10 minutes were spent
giving instructions and orientating the students to the website, and participants
spent about 15 minutes or less filling out the questionnaire. The first item on the
questionnaire is the participant’s student number, which was only accessible by
the researcher (who has no way to connect the number to the participant’s identity)
via the website. There were two rounds of participants in this part of the data
gathering. The first round consisted of two classes (39 participants), whose data
were correlated with their mid-term test scores for a test analysis. Two months
later, a second round of two fourth grade classes were added to the sample (35
participants), and end of the semester tests were used for the entire sample’s
Ethical Considerations
Every effort was made to keep the research at a level of zero-risk for the
participants. The main consideration was privacy, and ensuring that the
participants’ classroom environments were free of comparisons between
participants in regards to their survey responses. Another safe guard was to keep
the survey very simple, and thus not delve too deeply into the participants’
personal lives.
Correlational Analysis
Figure 1 represents a sample scattershot displaying the pattern of
association between parent scores and standardized test scores. Parent scores and
test scores served to generate x and y coordinates for each participant, and linear
correlations were drawn from the sample.
Average of All Test Scores (Korean, Math, and English)
Total Parent Score
Figure 1. Average test scores correlated with total parents score for all students
The chart includes all groups of participants (Public, Private, Equal, and
None) in the sample. The range of the test scores is 71-100, an average score of
88.9 (SD=7.71), and a median of 92. The range of the overall parent scores is 1-25,
an average score of 10.86 (SD= 5.44), and a median of 10. The finding we can
make from this scattershot is that there is a 0.32 positive correlation between
parental support and academic achievement across all groups, which we will
consider a significant positive trend.
Analysis of High and Low Parental
Support Groups
In the second round of analysis, the median of the parent scores (10) was
used to divide students above and below into high and low parental academic
support categories. The analysis in this segment was more general, comparing the
number (and proportion) of participants who fall into high, medium, and low
categories in regards to test scores between the four groups of: High Parental
Support/ Private After-School, Low Parental Support/ Private After-School, High
Parental Support/ Public After-School, and Low Parental Support/ Public AfterSchool. The academic achievement categories were modeled from the Korean
homeroom teachers’ conceptualization: 71-80 scores constitute “at risk”, 81-90 as
medium achievement, and 91-100 as high achievement. Test scores averages in
the sample lower than 71 were considered special cases by the homeroom
teachers, and were eliminated from the data.
The goals of both analyses are one-tailed: either higher parental support
helps the public after-school students achieve test scores that more similar to the
private after-school students or it doesn’t. One consideration is the assumption that
the public students will trend toward lower achievement in the first place as the
literature review suggests. Another is the assumption that parental support is
always beneficial, which became a bit problematic in one phase of the findings.
Analysis of Categorical Achievement
Groupings and Average Parent
The reader may note from the scattered points in our sample chart (fig. 1)
that while we did find a positive trend, the predictive power of our correlational
arrangement of the data is weak. We believe this is due to the (unfortunately
unavoidable) small sample size, so we sought out a specialized analytical tool that
could measure the probability of an event occurring using a small set of
observations. This led us to the Naïve Bayes classification modeling method,
which is similar to Logistic Regression and Decision Tree models. The Naïve
Bayes is a Classification Modeling Operator that combines the Bayes
classification theorem with and assumption of strong independence among the
predictors. It can be used to predict the probability of a certain data point being in
a particular classification. The specific algorithm we used was the Alpine Naïve
Bayes Algorithm by Alpine Datalabs, who kindly donated the use of their software
and personnel for this task.
The predictive relationship we found was demonstrated in three groups
(Public After-School, Private After-School, and Private/Public/Equal/None
combined) correlating the achievement category based on their average test score
(71-80, 81-90, 91-100), and the average parent score within each achievement
category. In essence, this was demonstrative of the participants’ likelihood of
moving into a higher achievement category based on their level of direct parental
The simple survey design imposed delimitations on the conceptualization
of parental support for the quantitative aspect of this study. Also, the limited
number of items led to a very low quantity of points with which to generate a
gradient field for correlation with the participants’ test scores, especially in regards
to the math score to parent score correlation. Another delimitation was the level of
anonymity provided did not allow for any follow up research to determine more
detailed explanations of the results of the analysis. Some of the findings were a bit
surprising; e.g., it would have been helpful to find out if some special cases in the
sample might have affected the negative correlations found in the private afterschool sample.
The most impeding limitation is the sample size and narrow (low-mid to
high-mid) SES demographic. This is especially a problem with the public afterschool group (17 students) and the “at risk” group (10 students). While we hoped
to find data that could inform our conclusions and assist with the construction of
our theoretical framework, it should be stressed that the predictive power of a
sample of this size is limited. This being said, we believe that a much larger
sample using the same research design would have substantial predictive power.
Another aspect of the groupings that may affect their SES demographics is
that the questionnaire doesn’t discern low-SES students who may be attending
private academies using government vouchers. Including an item on the
questionnaire to detect this group may have been led to inaccurate results (students
may not know that their parents are receiving government assistance), and at any
rate would have arguably been an invasion of privacy that undermined the study’s
goal of zero-risk.
Qualitative Methodology
From a phenomenological approach, the quantitative element of the study
would represent the pre-reflective interpretation of parental academic support on
the part of the researcher and Korean co-researcher (Finlay, 2008). The initial
conceptualization of the questionnaire should be considered a “self-evident”
illustration of measurable parental support from a Western teacher’s life-world
perspective. While the Korean co-researcher contributed modifications and
confirmations to the questionnaire items (thus curtailing the risk of overt cultural
bias), this was still from the perspective of a Korean teacher; neither researcher is
the parent of an elementary school student. Also, while “academic achievement”
can conveniently and pragmatically be defined according to test scores, it was
important to allow the study’s variables be defined by all the stakeholders (i.e.
students, parents, and teachers) in their own terms, according to their own
experience, and their own relationship with their life-world’s environment. Thus,
the quantitative aspect of this study served as an initiation point to test our prereflective theoretical framework, with the purpose to inform our subsequent
qualitative sources, research questions, and coding (Egan, 2006)
Qualitative Coding and Theoretical
We sought a simple but comprehensive coding design to examine, compare,
conceptualize, and categorize the variables of parental support, and after-school
programs. While the basic codes did not change during iterations of research, new
information built on the definitions, and the new conceptualizations of the codes
were incorporated into subsequent encounters (Starks & Trinidad, 2007). If the
variable of academic achievement seems conspicuously scarce from our analytical
framework, it is because all stakeholders defined achievement in terms of scores
on standardized tests and thus did not require significant coding.
Open Coding of Parental Academic
For the purposes of coding our analysis of parenting strategies we
designated three terms to use in measuring the participants’ responses. These three
codes were used to generate an idiographic understanding of each Parent Case
Study participant’s academic parenting strategy, and also played a role in the
analysis of the Korean Teacher Focus Group and Western Teacher Interview.
Contribution. This will be defined as supplemental services the parents are
providing to support their children’s academic achievement. This includes efforts
made to research, fund, and evaluate after-school academic services.
Participation. This term was initially introduced into coding to measure the
kinds and level of direct support and academic activities parents conduct with their
children, e.g. the forms support measured in the questionnaire. However, it was
modified in later iterations to also include supervision of both their child’s
performance in their after-school programs, and the quality of the programs
(primarily via communication with their teachers).
Concern. This term will measure the goals and anxieties parents have in
regards to their children’s academic achievement. As we will assume all the
participants to have the same level of concern for their children, this measurement
will focus on the unique concerns within each SES group. This is considered an
ethereal precursor to Participation and Contribution that serves to initiate these
active roles in parenting.
Open Coding of After-School
Coding for evaluating after-school programs were as follows:
Ambiance. What is the level of enthusiasm in the classroom, on both the
parts of the teacher and the students? The students may be happy to be there, but
how focused are they on the subject being taught? Ambiance could be either
positive or negative depending on its context. It could represent good or bad
attitudes toward the class or subject, or happiness or depression on the part of the
students (for reasons that may extend outside the circumstances in the classroom).
Also, a happy albeit unruly class may not be an ambiance that is conducive to
academic achievement. We will attempt to define the classes’ ambiance in terms
of these ideas, and speculate on its affect on academic achievement. This is a
measure of emotional factors, academic focus, and academic engagement in the
Environmental facilitation. This term will measure how class materials,
group organization, age variance within the classroom, and other material aspects
affect the efficacy of the class. This coding will encompasses physical factors.
Academic rigor. We defined this in terms of, “Pushing beyond what is easy
to achieve into what is currently past the limits of an individual’s ability.” This
term will encompass questions like, “Is the program meeting the teacher’s stated
objectives?” or “Does the program appear to contribute to the goal of helping
students accomplish academic achievement (e.g., improved test scores)?”
Academic rigor will be evaluated both in terms of the form it takes, and its level.
In certain respects this element could be considered a dependent variable
predictive from the ambience and environmental facilitation aspects of the
students’ classroom experience.
Axial Coding and Theoretical
Figure 2 illustrates the domains where the phenomena under study
influence our key variables, our core categories’ relationships to one another, and
sub-categories that were added to the framework during the course of our research
(Starks & Trinidad, 2007). The figure is best understood if read as a progression
from the left to the right side. In the domain of parental support: concern manifests
as participation and contribution, the focus of which (according to our qualitative
participants) centers on after-school programs. From the center to the right side is
the theoretical framework that resulted from coding and analyzing after-school
programs; where the characteristics of ambience and academic facilitation
associated with a program is predictive of the level of academic rigor, and the
resulting outcomes for students.
Summary of Qualitative Goals
The overall purpose of our qualitative research was to confirm or invalidate
our initial conceptualizations of academic support and achievement in the
quantitative research, identify emerging themes, and develop theories relating to
closing the achievement gap between low and high-SES Korean students (Egan,
2006). We will seek predictors of SES achievement gaps in order to formulate
possible solutions for them, and examine the quality of public after-school
programs. Specifically the goals are:
 Ideographically examine case studies of elementary student parents at three
levels of SES (low, mid, and high).
 Gain an understanding of the issues concerning the Korean SES
achievement gap from the perspective of Korean elementary school
Figure 2. Qualitative axial coding and theoretical framework
 Observe the format and quality of public Korean after-school programs.
 Compare the educational experience of pubic after-school programs and
private after-school programs.
Parent Case Studies Methodology
Our case studies of parents of elementary students will be drawn from
interviews with their mothers. The goals specifically here were:
 Answer the question: “What are the commonalities and differences in the
definition of academic achievement and parental academic support
between Korean parents at three levels of SES (low, mid, high)?”
 Focus on parents’ lived experiences and relationship with their children in
regards to their academic achievement (Finlay, 2008).
 Contrast and compare the life-worlds of families at different SES levels to
reflect on which characteristics of their parenting techniques (in regards to
academic achievement) are unique within their own group and which
elements are shared.
 In a practical sense, gain a direct understanding of the challenges facing
lower-SES groups in regards to academic achievement, and advantages that
higher-SES groups have over them.
 Gather information on after-school academic programs (and other academic
activities) that students attend at different SES levels, and their parents’
satisfaction levels with them.
Parent Interview Sampling Methods
Our sampling methods for the parent interviews are best described as
theoretical and convenience. The criterion for selection of parents to be
interviewed was based on contrasting levels of SES (low, mid, high) in order to
explore multiple dimensions of the social processes under study (Starks &
Trinidad, 2007). The low-SES parent should be from a family that would not be
able to afford a private afterschool program without government assistance. They
should also be a family where neither parent went to college. The mid-level SES
parents should be able to afford private afterschool programs, but such expenditure
would be a sacrifice. It is assumed that at least one parent would have a university
degree, but that was not part of the stated criteria. High-level SES parents should
have no problem affording private afterschool programs, but still have children in
a public school. All parents should have at least one child in elementary school. It
was assumed only mothers would be attending interviews because generally
mothers are the parent who takes responsibility for the child’s education, and the
contacts who were utilized to recruit participants were all women. Participants
were recruited via a “friend of a friend” connection to the Korean co-researcher.
In utilizing a three-person sample size it is problematic to make
generalizations to the larger population, and we should assume each case to
represent a unique family. However, we should also assume the participants’
representations of their life-worlds to have commonalities within own socioeconomic strata. While separating the unique and general characteristics may be
beyond the scope of this study, we hope to provide a snapshot of the academic
contributions, participation, and concerns of three Korean parents at low, mid,
and high levels of SES.
Parent Interview Research Sites and
Low-SES. (All participants’ names have been changed.) Suk-kyung and her
husband “own” (they rent the space) a small non-franchise convenience store. The
family lives in a small living space in the back of the store. The area is in a lowincome “hilly area” composed of small, low rent houses. They have a boy in the
first grade, a girl in the third grade, and another girl in the sixth grade. Their
school is composed of all low-SES families. Franchise convenience stores and
larger “marts” are making the traditional supermarkets less viable, and Sukkyung’s family is very concerned about their future.
Mid-SES. Min-yung is a nurse, and her husband works in the equivalent of
a city hall records department. Both have a basic university degree. They live in a
new two-bedroom apartment that is subsidized housing for government workers.
They have two children: a boy in fourth grade and a girl in sixth grade. Their
neighborhood has the relatively nice apartments described, but is located in an
older slightly industrial part of town. As a result their school has a mix of low,
mid, and mid-high SES students.
High-SES. Hyun-ju does not work, and her husband has his own plastic
surgery clinic. She has a university degree and he is a doctor. They live in a very
nice apartment building (the researcher noted four elevators), and the area (and
school’s SES) is very upper-middle to upper class. While their two boys (second
and fifth grade) go to the neighborhood’s public elementary school, the reason is
not economic: Hyun-ju claims they unexpectedly lost a lottery for admittance into
the private school they had planned to patronize.
Parent interview sites. Interviews were conducted in restaurants of the
participants’ choosing near their homes. Reasons for these locations include:
atmospheres conducive to rapport, our method of “payment”/incentive being
buying the participants dinner, and the added opportunity to observe the
participants’ neighborhoods. A common social practice for Korean ladies is to find
a quiet place to chat, and all the participants seemed to be mindful of the need for
such an environment for their interview. The site for the low-SES interviewee was
a traditional nato-bean soup restaurant, which was almost empty and very quiet.
The restaurant was all vegetarian in keeping with the interviewee’s Buddhist faith.
The mid-level was held at a shabu-shabu restaurant, where the interview was held
in a small private room. The high-level was at a “Western-style” steak restaurant,
where the group had their own area and privacy.
Parent Interview Procedures
The Korean co-researcher, with the exception of the high-SES parent who
spoke primarily in English, primarily conducted the interviews. At the beginning
of the first interview (with the low-SES parent) there was an objection to
recording the interview, leading to a breakdown in rapport. As a precaution
against this situation arising again, all interviews were conducted with the Korean
co-researcher taking notes. The researcher does not consider this a significant
impediment, as the purpose here is more to get general information than to find
quotable material. While the researcher had a general idea of what was going on
during the Korean interviews, most of his understanding was gained in a post
interview discussion with the Korean co-researcher. Before the interview formally
began (near to upon arrival at the research site) the participants were presented
with a consent form, which informed the participant that none of their personal
information would be shared and that the content of the interview would only be
used in this dissertation.
Interview questions were directed towards gathering data about the afterschool programs participants’ children attend, parental definitions of academic
achievement, their definition of parental support, and how they implement this
definition to facilitate their children’s academic achievement. Since the study
seeks to facilitate SES mobility, parental opinions about the college admittance
system and whether it is biased based on SES were also included. This line of
questioning was also used to coax the participants into sharing their anxieties and
goals for their children’s academic future. Also, Merkin (2009) asserts Korea (like
many other Eastern cultures) is a high-context culture, where life-strategies are
defined to a far greater extent by family, friends, and other social organizations
than in (low-context) Western culture. To address this, a line of questioning was
introduced to ascertain how the participants within these social networks discuss
the subject of academic support with their peers.
Translation: what limitations and adjustments to the qualitative paradigm
are necessary? The greatest challenge to conducting the qualitative aspect of this
study was the need for translation though the Korean co-researcher. In
transposing questions that would be of value to a Western researcher seeking to
understand how the subjective experience of the Korean participants relates to the
research question (and other qualitative goals), how do we ensure the validity of
the data? This dilemma is also central to the issue of rapport, where the manner in
which questions are approached is a vital consideration. In high-context cultures
there is a much larger body of shared information within in individual’s social
organizations than in Western low-context cultures. Messages in Korean society
are indirect and abstract, highly dependent on the communicating parties’ shared
information, and ancillary conversation is interposed to facilitate harmony. This is
in contrast to Western culture, in which communication tends to be direct and
explicit (Merkin, 2009). For example, to the researcher’s perspective extended
conversations were conducted between the Korean co-researcher and the
participants to yield very simple answers when translated back to the researcher.
While the English ability of the Korean co-researcher could be described as fluent
for everyday purposes, it is not high enough for abstract or highly complex
explanations of the interviewees’ responses.
Thus, while the researcher did compose a list of interview questions, these
questions were not posed directly to the participants as such, but were infused into
a conversation between the co-researcher and the participants. In order to reduce
ambiguity and misunderstanding in both directions of translation (including
misconceptions of a question’s objective on the part of the Korean co-researcher)
the lines of questioning are very simple, and the report of the findings is also very
elementary. Also, the use of direct quotations will be largely avoided. These
necessities unfortunately undermine the goal of qualitative research to focus on
detail. In painting our picture of the participants’ life-worlds, we will use broad
strokes and primary colors but nonetheless strive for accuracy above all else.
Ethical considerations. Every effort was made to preserve the anonymity of
the participants, and inform the participants’ consent. When a participant was
concerned about the researchers recording the interview, that component of data
collection was eliminated from the research design. There was no direct personal
or professional connection between the researchers and the participants and
recruitment through the third party was voluntary, so there was no incentive or
coercion to participate other than the free meal at the restaurant.
Korean Elementary Teacher Focus
Group Methodology
Korean elementary teachers in Busan share very similar backgrounds. After
completing their university requirements (and passing a rigorous test) they are
assigned to a school (rather than applying for a position), and must change school
assignments every 3 years. They are assigned more or less randomly to their new
schools, so after several years of teaching they have generally taught a range of
SES level students. Due to the commonalities in Korean elementary teachers’
experiences it could be assumed that they would share similar responses to
interview questions. Therefore, a discussion group was considered the most
appropriate venue to elicit perceptions, feelings, attitudes, and ideas from the
participants. A focus group of Korean elementary teachers was convened with
these goals:
 Answer the question: “Are the government’s efforts at providing equal
educational opportunities (e.g. after-school programs) effective in regards
to narrowing achievement gaps between lower-SES (who attend free public
after-school programs, or a combination of public/private) and higher-SES
groups (i.e. students who exclusively attend hokwans)?”
 Have the variables of parental academic support and academic achievement
defined from the perspective of educators.
 Gather current information on practices and programs within the public
education system that aim to improve academic achievement in lower
performing groups.
 Have the characteristics and causality of low and high performing groups
The last two items were originally intended to directly address SES as
opposed to students grouped by ability. However, the teachers claimed that they
did not differentiate students by SES, so we adjusted the line of questioning to
accommodate their own definition of “groups.”
Focus Group Sampling Methods
Sampling methods are best described as snowballing and convenience.
Efforts were made to ensure the teachers were currently serving in a range of SES
level schools. The participants were all acquaintances of the Korean co-researcher
via sharing a place of employment at one time or another, but none were currently
working at the same school as the co-researcher. While five teachers were
originally recruited only three attended the interview, and re-scheduling (which
had already occurred more than once) was not an option at this point in the
research timeline. Therefore the optimal number of five participants in conducting
focus groups had to be compromised to three.
Focus Group Research Site
The teacher focus group was conducted in the researcher’s home. All of the
participants (including the researchers) have small children or a baby, thus having
the group over to stay for several hours and conducting the focus group discussion
at an opportune time made this the most practical setting. If this needs additional
clarification: two babies and two small children were present, and the participants
did not wish to provide child-care in order to attend the discussion. The research
site needed to be at someone’s house, and thus it was determined that it should be
the researcher’s home. The interviewees’ husbands were also present, who
provided extra care for the children. Thus, the focus group discussion was
uninterrupted for the majority of the time. The researcher’s mother-in-law was
also at the research site to care for the babies in a separate room during the
discussion. As a form of incentive and facilitation of rapport, the researcher
prepared an authentic Italian meal for the participants. (The reader may note a
food gift as a theme in all payment methods to Korean participants in this study.)
Focus Group Participants
The participants are three elementary teachers in Busan, all in their midthirties. They teach in various schools ranging from low-mid to high SES. All
names have been changed. Their backgrounds are very similar, as the teaching
experience of Koreans is very uniform.
Eun-Kyung. (All names have been changed.) Hers is the lowest-SES
school, which couldn’t be described as impoverished but it’s a very low-income
area. She is currently a third grade homeroom teacher.
Kim-Jeong. Teaches at the same mid-SES school as the researcher. She is a
fourth grade homeroom teacher. During the interview, she was the “ring leader,”
with the other participants adding on to her statements.
Shin-Kaju. Is currently assigned to the same high-SES area school where
this study’s high SES parent interviewee is a client, and helped arrange that
interview. She is on maternity leave.
Korean co-researcher. Serving as a moderator of the focus group, she was
translating and orientating the group discussion. While the all the group members
spoke some English and moderate translation was given to the researcher (as
opposed to the minimal on-site translation of the parent interviews) She gave a
more detailed explanation of the discussion afterwards in tandem with the
Focus Group Procedures
While many aspects of the limitations inherent in the parent interviews still
come into play here, in many ways the Korean elementary teacher focus group
could be approached in a more straightforward manner. The teachers’ education
level provided for less of a language barrier, which contributed to rapport and to a
more detailed explanation of the responses. The interview was recorded, and the
Korean co-researcher took notes. All of the participants had some English
speaking ability, therefore each question was explained first by the researcher, and
then clarified by his wife. Most of the discussion was carried out in Korean. Even
as such the interview was about 45minutes long, and extra time and effort added
by constant translation would have compromised the results. Due to the nature of
how the interview was conducted then translated individual responses to the
questions are not present in the findings, and the focus group responses will be
reported collectively.
The first set of questions was essential to academic achievement, but they
were focused to address criteria (from our thesis adviser) that we should identify
specific groups in the target population. This is problematic because Korea is very
racially and culturally homogenous (in all the time the researcher has been a
teacher in Korea, he has never had a student who did not have a Korean mother
and father), and the all the Korean teachers participating in this study have claimed
they do not make any conscious differentiation according to SES. Thus, this is the
one opportunity in the study to establish how teachers do categorize students, and
how those classifications affect their teaching methods.
The next part of the interview addressed whether the government’s efforts
towards providing equal educational opportunities (e.g., after-school programs)
are effective at narrowing achievement gaps between lower-SES (students who
attend free public after-school programs, or a combination of public/private) and
higher-SES groups (students who exclusively attend hokwans). This directly
addresses the research question and key after-school program related variables.
Next, the opportunity was presented (as to all the stakeholders in this study)
to offer an alternative definition of academic achievement to the one used by the
quantitative aspect of this study (i.e., standardized test scores). Teachers were
assumed to be the source most likely to provide a more idealistic answer than
“grades and test scores.” It was also an opportunity to get a professional and
critical opinion in regards to standardized test scores as an instrument to measure
academic achievement.
The last question addressed parental support. The researcher was interested
to see if the teachers’ advice in regards to parental strategies would reflect (and
thus justify) the study’s quantitative survey questions. It would have of course
been better to use their input to craft the questions, but out of necessity (in the
research’s timeline) the survey was administered first. As mentioned previously,
the Korean co-researcher had a role in designing the survey and brought her
perspective as a Korean elementary teacher to that process.
Ethical considerations. We will not disclose the names of the participants’
schools, and a pseudonym for each participant will maintain confidentiality.
However, the participants did not consider the topic of this study to be
controversial, and were not concerned about issues of consent or anonymity.
While the familiarity of the participants with the co-researcher and with each other
should be considered (and possibly a factor in avoiding controversial statements),
the lack of familiarity with the parent interviewees was an obstacle in regards to
rapport. Also, convening this group was problematic (we were probably lucky to
get three attendees), and recruiting strangers to participate seemed unlikely.
Public After-School Classroom
Observation Methodology
Considering this study’s focus on after-school programs, it is useful to
provide a first-hand description of programs in key subject areas. One-time
classroom observations were made of the English (EFL), math, and Korean
(literacy) after-school programs at the researcher’s school of employment. The
goals of these observations were to:
 Answer the question: “Do Korean public after-school programs offer a
coherent and high-quality alternate curriculum to private programs?”
 Assess the quality and academic rigor of public after-school programs.
 Make observations about the students who attend these programs.
 Ascertain factors that contribute to the achievement gap between public
after-school students and private after-school students.
Classroom Observation Sampling and
Research Site
The sampling method for acquiring participants was convenience. Once
again, the probability that the researcher would get permission from any other
principal than the one at his own school of employment is problematic. Because it
is the researcher’s school of employment and rapport with the principal is high,
obtaining permission for observations was not an issue. Three after-school
programs at the elementary school where the researcher is employed were
observed. The classes were selected to mirror the quantitative focus on English
(EFL), math, and Korean (literacy) as well the target population of fourth grade
students. The classes are taught in classrooms on site at the school. The afterschool teacher participants were recruited via a contact (homeroom teacher) at the
Classroom Observation Participants
Teachers. The three participants were all contract (non-credentialed)
teachers who come to the school specifically to teach after-school programs and
rotate to other schools on other days of the week. Contract teachers are generally
teachers who have completed the university system’s teacher credential program,
but have thus far not successfully passed the rigorous teacher credential exam. The
method of payment (and facilitation of rapport) was a gift of bean cake. More
information (where available) on the teachers will be included as part of the
narrative in Findings.
Students. Students in free after-school programs are most often in the lower
SES groups. Thus, students present in the observations will trend towards the
lower SES demographic of the school, and the higher SES demographic will likely
not be represented. Class sizes are in the 12-24 student range, and will consist of
third-sixth graders. Though we sought a fourth grade target population, all of the
classes are of mixed grades. There are no racial or ethnic groups represented in the
sample, nor would there be any such group significantly represented in any other
potential school site in Busan (unless it was a class in a specifically multicultural
program). These participants provide useful insight, as they represent target
population in this study’s focus on public after-school programs.
Researcher. We will consider the researcher to be a participant. While this
study’s mode of writing has sought an objective tone, any attempts at objectivity
will be abandoned in this one case. The researcher’s intentionality (the
relationship between the observer’s consciousness and that which is being
observed) is inseparable from the narrative; thus instead of attempting such a
separation, the meanings derived from the observer’s life-world applied to what he
is experiencing will be the narrative’s focus (Finlay, 2008). Following this line of
reasoning, the writing mode of this study will briefly switch to the first-person
point of view in the Classroom Observations section of Results.
Classroom Observation Procedures
In lieu of an interview, participating after-school teachers were only asked
to give a brief two-part written statement prior to the observation. While this
amount of background brevity may not be optimal for qualitative studies, our goal
was to prevent this exercise from being too intrusive and burdensome to the
participating teachers (who lack any affiliation to the researcher). The first part
consisted of a brief explanation of the goals and teaching method of the lesson that
would be observed. The second part was a single question: “How would you
compare or contrast the teaching methods of your after-school program with a
similar program at a hokwan (private after-school program)?”
A single class was unobtrusively observed, and teaching methods were
compared to the regular school-day curriculum as well as hypothetically what
students could expect at a hokwan. The “polite” amount of time spent observing a
class was judged to be about twenty minutes, although in the case of the Korean
(literacy) lesson rapport with the teacher was high, which resulted in a longer stay.
During the English and math lessons the researcher remained in the back of the
room so as to call as little attention to him-self as possible. The math lesson
consisted primarily of students doing bookwork, so it was necessary for the
researcher to move around the room to observe what the students were doing. The
researcher took notes, as any recording device might have ethical considerations,
pose risk to rapport, or otherwise possibly affect the behavior of the students and
Ethical considerations. The teachers considered this to be a public exercise,
and were not concerned with issues of consent. The English teacher did have some
last minute concerns about the publication of her name and the name of the school,
but a verbal assurance that she and the school’s name would not be used
eliminated any risk to rapport. All names have been changed in this study, and no
identifying information is present in any description of the students. The
researcher is a well-known teacher at the school (all of the students in this study
attend his classes), and his presence in the class taking notes was considered zerorisk for the students, requiring no consent. The school’s principal gave full consent
for observations of classes on his campus. Although the voluntary nature of
participation was stressed, the teachers’ motivation for participating may have
been influenced by the principal’s cooperation. While we believe this does not
constitute coercion, it can be difficult in Korea to define exactly where the
obligatory and voluntary begin and end; therefore we kept the research design as
minimalistic and unobtrusive as possible.
Limitations. The greatest limitation in our observational aspect of this study
is the lack of observations at a private after-school institution. Although a
comparison between public after-school programs and hokwans would be very
helpful, doing a comparative observation at a hokwan is impossible for the
researcher at this time. He lacks any connection to a local hokwan, and attempts
to contact and recruit an academy for participation was met with an absence of
cooperation. (The researcher will note that such institutions do not have a
reputation for altruism.) To address this limitation we conducted an interview with
a native English teacher who has taught in both private and public after-school
Western Teacher Interview
This part of the study was included primarily to help mitigate the limitation
that we have no ability to do direct research comparing hokwans and public afterschool programs. The research design here is minimalistic and serves primarily as
a fact-finding mission. The goals here were:
 Answer the question, “What differences in the educational experiences of
public and private after-school students contribute to the achievement gap
between them?”
 Gather more information on hokwans, including differences in the quality
of hokwans catering to low or high SES groups.
 Gain further insight into the effectiveness of educational welfare programs
in Korea.
 Define parental academic support from another perspective, and the
interviewee’s views on effective academic parenting strategies for lowerSES families.
Sampling and Research Site
The sampling method is convenience; we sought to find a qualified
individual who had taught extensively at both hokwans and the public school
system who would be amenable for an interview. The researcher had met the
participant two times in an unrelated field: the participant was a client at the scuba
company where the researcher spent his weekends as a dive-master. The
researcher was not acquainted with the participant outside of this setting. The
motivation of the participant was an interest in the research topic, and “payment”
was sharing some of the findings of this study.
The research site also needed to be based on convenience. The interview
was conducted over the phone while the interviewer and participant were both at
their own respective school sites in Busan and Seoul. This was done after classes
and there were no disruptions of the interview.
Western Teacher Interview Participant
Don (name changed) is a 33-year-old public elementary native English
teacher in one of the lowest income level areas in Seoul. He taught at hokwans for
4 years and at a public school for 4 years. He has a B.A. in English, and is
currently enrolled in a TSOL master’s degree program. The school where he
teaches has a population of about 1,200 students, and one other native teacher is
employed there. He currently does not teach after-school programs at the school
(they have been contracted out), but he ran programs for the first 2 years of his
employment there and conducts winter/summer “English camps.”
Don provides this study with the valuable asset of a knowledgeable
comparison between the educational experiences of students attending public
after-school programs and private ones. The researcher has very little hokwan
experience (he taught at one winter English camp) and the Korean public school
teacher interviewees could only provide anecdotal accounts of their perceived
differences in the programs.
Western Teacher Interview
The interviewee was briefed on the issues this study addresses, and was
allowed to see part of the study’s data. The interview lasted about 20 minutes via
an informal phone call. Questions were open ended and included improvised
follow-up queries. The first line of questioning related to the research question,
asking the participant to compare the differences between public and private afterschool programs, and point out disparities that may contribute to the achievement
gap between low and high-SES students. The next line of questioning targeted just
the hokwans, and differences in the educational experience of lower and higher
SES groups within the private after-school industry. The final line of questioning
related to parental academic support (i.e., its definition according to the
participant) and professional advice directed at low-SES parents.
Ethical considerations. Similar to all the teachers interviewed in this study,
the participant considered the interview to be “on the record” and the redaction of
his personal information is a courtesy of discretion on the part of the researcher.
While the participants’ attitude in this respect might limit to some extent the
content of their responses or behavior, none of the teacher participants considered
the topic of this study to be controversial.
Here we have our findings for our quantitative and qualitative research,
followed by interpretations of the data and discussions of our interviews and
observations. Our quantitative findings include correlational data analysis, and our
analysis of low/ high parental support groups and categorical achievement. The
qualitative findings consist of parent case studies, a Korean teacher focus group,
observations of public after-school programs, and an interview with a Western
native English teachers working in the Korean school system. While we will not
make a show out of demonstrating of the evolution of our theoretical framework,
the findings are presented in the order that the research was implemented. Thus,
the reader can discern the directions we took in our sources and analysis to arrive
at our conclusions.
Korean (Literacy) Correlational Data
Descriptive statistics. The Korean (literacy) test scores of the public afterschool group have a range of 78-100, an average of 86.60 (SD=5.56), and a
median of 92. The Korean parent scores for the public group have a range of 0-10,
an average of 3.88 (SD=3.35), and a median of 3. The private after-school group’s
test scores have a range of 80-100, an average of 94.14 (SD=5.76), and a median
of 94. The Korean parent scores of the private group have a range of 0-11, an
average of 5.34 (SD=2.95), and a median of 5.
Both groups show similar trends toward a positive correlation between
parental support and literacy. The correlational value for each chart is 0.37 for
Public After-School Students (Figure 3) and 0.33 for Private After-School Students
(Figure 4). As Korean (literacy) not a primary focus of hokwans’ curriculums, in
some respects this could be considered a “control group” for this part of the study.
Korean (Literacy) Test Score
Public After-School Students
Korean (Literacy) Parental Support Score
Figure 3. Correlation of Korean (literacy) test scores to parental support (Public
Korean (Literacy) Test Score
Private After-School Students
Korean (Literacy) Parental Support Score
Figure 4. Correlation of Korean (literacy) test scores to parental support (Private
Math Correlational Data
Descriptive statistics. The math test scores of the public after-school group
have a range of 72-100, an average of 88.59 (SD=8.49), and a median of 90. The
math parent scores for the public group have a range of 0-5, an average of 2.41
(SD=1.61), and a median of 2. The private after-school group’s test scores have a
range of 70-100, an average of 91.70 (SD=7.59), and a median of 94. The math
parent scores of the private group have a range of 0-6, an average of 2.20
(SD=1.57), and a median of 2.
Here the data demonstrate a positive trend toward academic achievement
for the public school participants (0.21 correlational value in Figure 5), but a
slightly negative trend for private school students (-0.03 correlational value in
Figure 6).
Public After-School Students
Math Test Score
Math Parental Support Score
Figure 5. Correlation of math scores to parental support (Public AS)
Private After-School Students
Math Test Score
Math Parental Support Score
Figure 6. Correlation of math scores to parental support (Private AS)
English Correlational Data
Descriptive statistics. The English test scores of the public after-school
group have a range of 48-100, an average of 78.59 (SD=15.49), and a median of
80. The English parent scores for the public group have a range of 0-9, an average
of 3.65 (SD=2.25), and a median of 4. The private after-school group’s test scores
have a range of 64-100, an average of 94.24 (SD=6.99), and a median of 96. The
English parent scores of the private group have a range of 0-9, an average of 4.24
(SD=2.15), and a median of 4.
Once again we have a positive correlation (0.31 correlational value for
Figure 7) for public after-school students and a negative one (-0.13 correlational
value for Figure 8) for public after-school participants. The negative trend is
facilitated somewhat by an outlier low score, but removing the outlier will not
create a positive trend.
Public After-School Students
English Test Scores
English Parental Support Score
Figure 7. Correlation of English test scores to parental support (Public AS)
Private After-School Students
English Test Score
English Parent Score
Figure 8. Correlation of English test scores to parental support (Private AS)
Cumulative Correlational Comparison
Descriptive statistics. The average of all the test scores (Korean, math, and
English) of the public after-school group have a range of 72-96, an average of 86
(SD=7.56), and a median of 88. The total parent scores for the public group have a
range of 2-24, an average of 8.82 (SD=5.59), and a median of 9. The private afterschool group’s average test scores have a range of 64-100, an average of 93.10
(SD=5.55), and a median of 95. The total parent scores of the private group have a
range of 1-25, an average of 11.56 (SD=5.63), and a median of 10.
Both groups show a positive correlational trend of parental support with
academic achievement. The public after-school group’s chart has a correlational
value of 0.34 (Figure 9), and the private after-school group has a correlational
value of 0.08 (Figure 10).
Average of All Test Scores (Korean, Math, English)
Public After-School Students
Total Parental Support Score
Average of All Test Scores (Korean, Math, English)
Figure 9. Correlation of average test scores to total parental support score (Public
Private After-School Students
Total Parental Support Score
Figure 10. Correlation of average test scores to total parental support score
(Private AS)
Data Analysis of Low/ High Parental
Support Groups and Categorical
The reader should note that while we are not ignoring the actual number of
students represented in each chart, proportion is the main focus of our analysis.
Also, (reiterating a point made in the Participants section) the particular group of
fourth graders in our sample is considered by their homeroom teachers (and the
researcher) to be an unusually high achieving year; this results in the “top heavy”
proportions among the private after-school groups. What we are hoping to find
here is a reversal of risk to lower-SES participants due to direct parental academic
support, and evidence of the benefits of this form of academic participation across
all groups.
Students who were in the public after-school groups show significant
benefit from high parental support, as would be expected from the trends shown in
the scattershot graphs. Most importantly, while the actual numbers of medium and
high achieving participants are the same for the low (Figure 11) and high (Figure
12) parental support groups, we see a reversal of the proportion of “at risk”
students between the low support and high support groups. Note that there are
more students at risk in the Low Parental Support/Public After-School group than
in all other three groups combined.
The charts generated for the private after-school students show both groups
do well (Figures 13 & 14), but the probability of scoring in the very top category
is increased in the high parental support group (Figure 14).
Figure 11. Categorical achievement for “Low Parental Support/Public AS” group
Figure 12. Categorical achievement for "High Parental Support/Public AS" group
Figure 13. Categorical achievement for “Low Parental Support/Private AS” group
Figure 14. Categorical achievement for "High Parental Support/Private AS" group
Data Analysis of Categorical
Achievement and Average Parent
This final arrangement of the data separates the students into achievement
categories and after-school groups (including a combination of public and private
groups), and correlated to the average parent score within that group (Figure 15).
The goal of this analysis is to determine with some predictive power a relationship
between direct parental support and upward mobility between achievement
Figure 15. Average parent scores in relation to achievement categories for Public,
Private, and Public/Private/Equal/None combined (All Students)
This arrangement of the data demonstrates a predictive trend toward
migration into higher achievement categories with increased levels of direct
parental academic support. The Private AS group’s results are skewed in the
lowest achievement category due to an outlier student who had very low testscores, but very high parent scores. Due to the small sample size we didn’t want to
eliminate any student; we thought it a poor practice to remove this participant
from the data while keeping data points that benefited the trend we hoped for.
Parent Interview Findings
After-school programs. Suk-kyung’s (low-SES) first and third grade
children go to the after-school program at their school for writing, and go to the
local cultural community center for various other free activities. The community
center employs contract teachers, has a small library, videos, and a small
playground. The teachers conduct basic primary classes, e.g. reading, writing, and
math. She claims to be satisfied with these programs’ quality.
My family economic situation is not good. I have to work late, there is no
one to take care of my children, and the store is not a good [environment]
for them to be. The community center is near my house and my children
can stay until I pick them up. We’re a lower-income group, so we can use
this center.
My children can read books, watch the videos, do their homework, and
study. The community center belongs to Busan city and the staff and
teachers are government servants, so they are trustable. I don’t need to pay
anything, that’s the main reason why I send my children to the center. (Sukyung, personal communication, March 5, 2013)
Suk-yung’s sixth grade daughter is a very motivated student and attends an
all-subject hokwan via a government voucher. Suk-kyung is concerned with the
quality of this program because of the hokwan’s run down environment, large
class size, and lack of a native English teacher. However, attendance at this
facility (as opposed to using the school’s after-school programs) is as much a
social activity as an academic one. Sixth graders are somewhat embarrassed about
still being in elementary school, which creates a “critical mass” of students at the
hokwan. Thus, her daughter goes to the hokwan to be with her friends.
Min-yung (mid-SES) pays for her sixth grade daughter’s English and allsubject hokwans. Her fourth grade son’s the main academic after-school activities
are the English after-school program at the school, and a math worksheet tutor
who comes to their home once a week. The school’s native English teacher, who
her son likes, teaches the after-school program. Her primary concern at his age is
that he has a good attitude towards the subject. He also goes to a tae-kwan-do
Hyun-ju’s children attend expensive math, science, tae-kwon-do,
swimming, and golf hokwans. They also have English, violin, and piano tutors
who come to their home.
Parental Support
The overall sentiment across all SES lines was that academic support was
best achieved by facilitating the best after-school services possible for their
children, not though direct involvement. Suk-kyung (low-SES) has put a great deal
of research into contributing all of the educational welfare available to her income
level (e.g. the voucher for her daughter’s hokwan). In regards to helping her
children with homework, reading with them, or even asking them about school she
and her husband are “almost always working” (e.g. managing the store or handling
deliveries). During their free time they have they are too “tired and grumpy” (the
best translation we could make from a contextual use of “hime-upsoyo”) to bother
with school related things. However, their oldest daughter enthusiastically takes
the academic support role of participation by helping them with their schoolwork,
reading with them, and teaching them a little English. Suk-kyung reminds her
children occasionally that without scholarships they will not be able to afford to go
to college, hoping that sharing her level of concern will act as an incentive to
academic achievement.
Min-yung (mid-SES) level of participation was higher than Suk-kyung’s
(low-SES), but her hours as a nurse are often at odds with being able to spend a lot
of time with her children during the week. On her day off she helps her fourth
grade son with math, and checks his homework. Min-yung holds frequent
conversations with her children to keep informed about their school-life. She also
takes both her children to the bookstore and lets them select books.
However, due to time constraints and curriculum difficulty Min-yung
believes the contribution of professional help is more valuable to the academic
achievement of her children than participation. Her sixth grade daughter’s
homework content is much harder than when she went to school, and she feels
intimidated by it. She does extensive research to find the best hokwans for the
price, and keeps an eye out for quality after-school programs at the school for her
fourth grader.
Hyun-ju (high-SES) has quite a bit more free time that translates into more
participation at her children’s school, but most of her participation does not take
the form of direct academic activities with the children themselves. She is a
member of the PTA and frequently consults with her children’s teachers. One
form of participation that does manifest is a central role of English in their
family’s life; during dinner, and other times the family is not in public they do
their best to speak in English. Vacations are spent in English speaking locations,
which we will consider participation. However, usually part of the trip involves
the children staying at an English school (while the parents do a more romantic
retreat), which we will consider a contribution.
A telling method of understanding a society’s conceptualization of parental
concern is what people discuss with their peers, and the advice they give to one
another. In regards to academic achievement the response was very similar across
all lines of SES. The participants claimed that participation (e.g., books to read,
activities) was not a typical topic of social conversation among their social groups
of other parents. Concerns about how to provide the best contributions for their
children are considered more important than participation, and most discussion
revolves around finding the best after-school programs possible on their respective
budgets. Exceptions to this include discussion of other concerns, such as school
violence or disruptive friendships.
Specifically, Suk-kyung (low-SES) discusses the best free services and
welfare programs available with her peers. Min-yung (mid-SES) and her friends
trade advice about the best hokwans for the money, and outstanding after-school
classes that might arise at the school. Incidentally, this was a point in the interview
where the researcher noted to Min-yung that there didn’t seem to be a lot of
interest expressed toward the after-school programs at her children’s school.
They’re often run by credentialed or semi-credentialed (contract teachers who
have finished the university program but not passed the credential test) teachers
under the supervision of the school, isn’t that better? Min-yung responded that the
oversight was not intentional, and that if a program at the school is run by a wellrespected teacher word spreads very quickly and garners enthusiasm. High quality
and free is great!
These days many after-school programs are excellent. Not all, but most
programs are very useful. The school office manages the after school
programs and teachers, so it’s trustable. The institutes are expensive, and
sometimes they are not managed very well. The after school program fee is
much less, and my children can study in the school. That means my kids are
safe and I do like it. (Min-yung, personal communication, March 12, 2013)
Hyun-ju (high-SES) and her friends exchange references for the best tutors and
hokwans available. They also make arrangements to have a few of their children
meet with one tutor together for a group lesson.
College admittance. Academic achievement (measured by test scores) is
our central variable as a means unto the ends of improved SES mobility via
college admittance. As such it was deemed necessary to allow the stakeholders an
opportunity to express their viewpoints about the high-stakes college admittance
system: whether it disenfranchises lower levels of SES, and the stakeholder’s
feelings about these issues. The best way to describe the participants’ consensus
was that the system was fair, but was just “more fair” for the rich than everyone
else. All participants believed that an intelligent low-SES student who tries hard
enough can pass the tests, and that it’s just easier for the wealthy. Nor did they
believe that the high-stakes testing system was in need of serious reform.
However, Min-yung (mid-SES) had vaguely articulated hopes the test format
might be changed in the future away from being memorization based, to a “more
Western” system that incorporated “creativity”. She also wished they would stop
continually changing the system, which was disruptive and added anxiety as to
how her children should be preparing. Examples of such changes include
switching the order of taking the test and applying to college (before you would
apply then take the test, now it is reversed), and the inclusion of a writing test.
However, passing the admittance test was not the primary concern of the
low to mid SES participants. Most of Suk-kyung (low-SES) and Min-yung’s
(mid-SES) concerns were centered on high tuitions. Suk-kyung’s daughter was
doing her very best to achieve high enough to be awarded scholarships, but the
chances of her being unable to attend college were alarming. Min-yung’s
apprehension was more muted, but more scholarships and lower tuition were
central to her educational concerns.
Hyun-ju (high-SES) had little interest in this part of the interview because
she has no intention of her children going to college in Korea. She her concerns
were centered on her children attending high prestige colleges in the United States,
such as MIT or Harvard. In order to accomplish this, private schools will no longer
be optional once they reach middle school age. Hyun-ju intends to send her
children to a private high school in the United States, but she has a great deal of
concern about her children living abroad where they might be tempted towards
“bad habits” (likely a hint at drugs and alcohol). The optimal solution would be for
her to live in the United States while her husband maintains his Korean medical
practice, and hopes alternate accommodations would involve living in a dormitory
instead of staying with strangers.
Teacher Focus Group Findings
The researcher began the interview by explaining the context and relevance
of the first three questions pertaining to groups. Essentially, that the current target
audience of the research was an American teaching program and one of the most
important issues in America was how to accommodate various groups (e.g.,
multicultural, etc.). Thus far our research indicated that Korean educational culture
did not share these issues, so this was where the study would define student groups
in a Korean context. Their responses verified these previous indications, and this
part of the interview was over fairly quickly. According to the participants,
teachers simply define classroom groups as “low-ability” (at risk), “mid-ability,”
and “high-ability”, with test scores and grades as the criteria for groupings. Their
main teaching strategy is using the mid group as the “target” for any lesson they
plan. If the mid group understands every aspect of the lesson completely it is
considered a successful lesson. The high students are often paired with the low
students as “body tutors.”
Many extra services are offered to the low-group students. Trained adult
teachers come to the classrooms as teaching aids or tutors, either in the form of
contract teachers or university students. Special after-school programs are also
offered, most notably one known as the “CHAMPS” program. A district’s
education office carefully monitors the quality of the CHAMPS program, and
other quality methods are employed. The CHAMPS program uses “promotion
points” (which are used to ascend to administrative positions) as an incentive to
recruit teachers. This is significant because the points attract highly experienced
teachers, and “head teachers” (the level immediately below vice-principal) who
have influence at the school to recruit other highly qualified teachers to participate.
(Incidentally, this system of promotion points is also used to attract teachers to
very low-SES or rural school districts.) For very high-level students who pass an
entrance exam, a free after-school “gifted program” is offered that is located at the
district’s education office.
On the question of root origins of high and low levels of characteristics that
contribute to academic achievement (e.g., motivation, intelligence, and efficacy)
the consensus among participants was three tiered. First and foremost, the
participants believed individual character was the defining causality, and that a
student with a high or low desire to achieve will defy external circumstances. This
is to some extent supported by this study’s quantitative data, where in a few cases
students with the highest test scores had almost no financial or parental support
(and one apparently attends no after-school programs), and the student with the
lowest test scores has very high levels of parental participation. Below individual
character, parental emotional and academic support was regarded as the greatest
contributing factor, and the participants’ definitions of parental support mirrored
the conceptualization in the student survey (e.g., frequency of reading together,
doing homework together, and academic field trips). A clear distinction was made
between financial and emotional support with the example being the difference
between the parent and child reading together, or just giving their child money to
buy books. On the third tier below parental participation was the SES level and
education of the parents. As is generally anticipated, highly educated parents set
high academic expectations for their children and serve as academically strong
role models. Contributions of higher quality hokwans was also cited as a factor,
and the participants also provided an important insight regarding parental concern
and participation when receiving free academic services versus paid-for services.
According to the participants, parents who receive free services are generally
happy with the quality and results because they are grateful to be getting the
services. However, when parents pay for services they tend to be much more
involved in the process and demand results from the hokwans and their own
children. Paying parents spend more time speaking directly with the hokwan
teachers than public after-school teachers, put more pressure on their children to
get as much out of the private programs as possible, and monitor whether they are
completing homework assigned by a hokwan.
When asked for an appraisal of the effectiveness of Korean education
welfare to equalize academic achievement between SES groups the participants
reiterated previous information, but included some positive assessment. They
believed that hokwan voucher programs, in class contract teacher and university
student support, and quality after school programs significantly improved the
prospects for lower SES students. They also believed that the quality level of
public after school program teachers was high and those teachers generally
planned their lessons very well. They also noted that the small class sizes of a
typical public program allowed teachers to plan better lessons with more
individual focus. When the researcher explained that many of Korea’s educational
welfare practices (e.g., the low variance between schools in poor and rich districts)
would be considered fairly revolutionary in the United States, the interviewees
were a bit shocked that anyone would want to run an education system any other
One point the participants stressed was their central role as teachers in
motivating low-SES students. (The researcher notes that this is a slight
contradiction to their previous statement that they do not pay attention to SES.)
Low-SES students have low self-esteem that can lead to poor motivation, and a
teacher’s support can have a highly positive effect on their students’ lives. This
statement is confirmed in our Literature Review section, where one finding was
that the success of educational welfare programs was primarily determined by the
teacher’s faith in their students. If the teacher thought the reforms would work,
their students’ academic achievement improved. If a teacher did not believe their
students could learn, the welfare reforms did little to help (Kim, 2012).
Asking the focus group to define “academic achievement” initiated a long
discussion in Korean that led to a very short answer (as related to the researcher by
the Korean co-researcher). The teachers defined academic achievement as “50-50”
between students’ test scores and their attitudes. Many students who have high test
scores are often also hypercompetitive, arrogant, selfish, and disrespectful to their
teachers and classmates. Many students who are “warm hearted”, but have lower
test scores perform better in the classroom because they work well with other
students and their teacher. Teachers prefer to work with the latter group of
The question of what advice would the participants give to lower-SES
parents again led to some reiteration of previous information. The responses
pointed to the many government services available to help poor students (e.g.,
hokwan vouchers, after-school programs, etc.), and that parents should educate
themselves about them. Also, academic participation at home and showing
concern about a child’s school-life would contribute to their child’s academic
A final line of questioning queried specific details about how the college
entrance testing system may favor higher-SES groups. While there is very low
public school variance in Korea (as documented in the Literature Review), wealthy
Koreans have access to private schools, better hokwans, tutors, and educational
vacations. Additionally, the way the tests are structured target very specific skill
sets, which is problematic for students whose education is more generalized. One
participant made an analogy imagining the college entrance tests as though they
were a physical education test. Instead of the test being a general test of endurance,
agility, and basic sporting events it is made up of many very specific sports
techniques. Instead of a basic timed swimming test there is a test to see if you
have mastered 10 different types of strokes and dives. If a well-to-do student can’t
quite get the hang of the “free-style” stroke, they can get a tutor to drill them on it
for three days and mark that part of the test off their checklist. For students who
can’t afford “quick-fix” tutors, getting every detail of the test requirements
mastered is problematic.
English After-School Class
(For the narrative style that the researcher feels best serves reporting
observations, we will switch to a first person-present tense writing mode for all
after-school class observations in the study.)
Before the observation I have already received the teacher’s answers to my
short questionnaire, in English. The participant’s explanation of her lesson is,
“Teaching speaking conversation subjects: classroom, animals, colors, etc. for [a]
beginner class.” (“Jill,” questionnaire response, April 3, 2013) Her response to the
question asking her to make a comparison between her curriculum and a hokwan’s
after-school program is: “I am not sure. Hokwans use [the] same textbooks or
subjects like my class. My methods during class are using Power Points,
flashcards, YouTube, games, and textbooks etc.” (“Jill,” questionnaire response,
April 3, 2013)
This sounds very similar to my own teaching methods last year when I
taught a third and fourth grade after-school program, and I feel a bit vindicated
that someone coming from a very different direction in life would reach the same
conclusions about the best way to run a program like this. Essentially we are
running the public school program to replicate the results the hokwans presumably
provide, except we are likely to be more highly trained teachers and more personal
conviction to our work. My stereotype of a typical hokwan native English teacher
is someone much younger than a typical public school teacher, and is basically just
doing the job so they can come to Korea for a year, party all night, and use
Korea’s location as a springboard for vacations to other parts of Asia. My
assessment of the other foreign native English teachers in the public school system
is somewhat higher than that. It leads me to wonder why more people don’t use
the public programs instead of the hokwans.
I meet the teacher 10 minutes before class, give her a box of bean cakes (a
method of payment and show of good-will), and we introduce ourselves. She uses
the English name “Jill” (name has been changed). Jill tells me she is a contract
teacher instead of a regular homeroom teacher because the hours are better for her
marriage. She has a couple of concerns about my observation. Her main worry is
that no one in the Korean school system will see my report, especially anything
about the specific YouTube materials she is using. Her position as a contract
teacher is always precarious, and there may be licensing issues with some of the
materials. I assure her that this is just for a report to be presented to an American
university and any publication of the findings would redact any reference to her
identity or the identity of the school. She also points out that she was told this was
only to be a 15-20 minute observation. Korean teachers are generally more
sensitive than Americans about being watched while doing their lessons. I’ve
been in a situation where I needed to wait in my classroom for a few minutes
while another teacher was teaching there, and she was quite angry even though I
was blending into the background as best I could. I assure Jill that I won’t
overstay my welcome.
Jill shows me the YouTube and other class materials she uses, which I will
be non-specific about here due to her obvious concern. They use a hokwan-style
write-in textbook, which the students have to buy. For my own class I made copy
packets from a set of similar books we procured at my request and keep on site.
My solution is less colorful (and probably less copy-write legal), but more
sensitive to the students’ economic situation.
Students begin entering, and I take a small seat in the back of the room.
They are curious about my presence, and I explain that it’s for “my homework”.
Jill tells the class that they were chosen because they are the best group of students
in the school. During the lesson students try to look back and get my attention, so I
put my notebook up and write with it strategically placed in front of my face. In
general I try to appear focused on the notebook, without staring at the teacher
directly while she does her lesson. Students filter in over several minutes (and
some come late), but the final tally is as follows: six third grade boys, five third
grade girls, four fourth grade boys, and five fourth grade girls.
The students are cheerful and well behaved. Jill uses a microphone
headpiece and utilizes a calm quiet tone of voice that gets amplified. She puts
students into groups, making boys join girl groups despite their mild complaints.
So far she is only speaking in Korean. She puts on a cartoon at a low volume
while she has students come to the front for her to check their homework.
Incidentally, the cartoon is “Larva,” a dialogue-free Korean CG that I personally
used every day to motivate my students to arrive on time and settle into their seats
at the beginning of class.
Jill gets started, joking with the students and putting some word cards upon
the board. She mixes days of the week, weather, and months then asking students
to differentiate between them. She is using English phrases and explaining them in
Korean, such as the difference between “It’s sunny.” and “It’s Sunday.” After this
warm up she plays some “talking flashcards” from YouTube. These feature animal
pictures and text of their names in conjunction with a native English voice, who is
chanting the animal names accompanied by jazz music. Students repeat the chants
with more gusto than I would assume possible in a response to a non-present
disembodied chant leader. She then gives the order (in English) to “stand up” and
students stand on their chairs. She begins a TPR session led by music and video
from another YouTube, “Move like a (animal).” Students make their bodies like
elephants, birds, snakes etc. Two things I’m thinking is that it looks fun but the
students aren’t saying the English, and it seems kind of an unsteady way to do
TPR where they might fall and hurt themselves. They finish and Jill gives the
English order “Sit down.”
Now the students do some bookwork, with an accompanying CD ROM that
puts the pages of the book large on the TV screen, and she can zoom up closely to
specific parts of a page. There is a native English voice that does the speaking
parts for the text, and speaks the answers to fill in the blank parts. One thing I
note about the textbook is that it is more challenging than the school’s regular
classroom textbooks, which in my opinion are too easy and don’t have enough
writing exercises. From the textbook they run through some basic greeting drills
(“I’m fine, thank you, and you?”) group by group.
Jill switches from the textbook to use some flash cards of animals, and she
intentionally shows the cards upside down, which I assume is to add one cognitive
step to the exercise. However, the point of the exercise is no longer animal name
vocabulary: it’s the phrase “What’s this?” She goes back to the textbook, which
utilizes the phrase. Building from this Jill writes, “What’s this? / What’s that?”
along with Korean translations to the phrase. She then explains the difference in
usage, speaking in Korean. Next, she puts some of her animal flashcards around
the room, and then goes back to the front. Jill alternates between asking about
cards in her hand (“What’s this?”) and cards located around the room (“What’s
that?”). During all the flashcard exercises she gives points to groups for correct
After a brief interlude using this knowledge to complete the exercises in the
textbook, Jill goes back to the flashcard game and scaffolds to “Is this a (animal)?/
Is that a (animal)?” The students answer, “Yes it is! / No it isn’t!” Finally she
asks a student to come up and take the part of the teacher for one round of the
“game”. The teacher asks the class to rate that student for points. The student
demonstrating is a young third grade boy who is having trouble, and the rating
from his classmates (and their commentary) is unfavorable. In my own games I
generally use the English as a mechanic for completing whatever task is central for
winning the game, but the student’s English ability is not a factor in winning or
losing. The game is used more as a vehicle for me to focus on individual students
and correct or help them, and I usually don’t put students out for scrutiny from the
other students. I sense Jill also feels like this is an awkward moment in the lesson,
and I notice that I have gone over my stated time limit. Thus, it seems like a good
time to conclude the observation and quietly leave the room.
Math After-School Observation
Before the observation I have already received her answers to my short
questionnaire, in Korean. Her explanation of her lesson is (translated from Korean
then corrected for grammar): “Students study with their individual textbook.
They ask questions about problems they find difficult and solve them. There is an
explanation time according to their progress.” (Math after-school teacher,
questionnaire response, April 4, 2013)
Her response to the question asking her to make a comparison between
herself and a hokwan after-school program is (translated from Korean then
corrected for grammar):
Compared to a hokwan, the content has no difference; it is focused on the
school curriculum. However, there’s some difference in the teaching
method. In a hokwan there’s a specific starting and stopping time for the
class. Students all progress at the same rate through the material regardless
of their level. Although this after-school class has a fixed schedule, many
students are from different classes and grades, so it is impossible to start
and end with all the students at the same time. Thus, the focus is individual
learning and not whole class instruction. The progress will be different
according to the students’ individual level, and I utilize self-directed
learning as needed. (Korean math after-school teacher, questionnaire
response, April 4, 2013)
This class is located in one of the two science lab rooms. There are sturdy
immobile tables and rather uncomfortable square wooden stools. About half of the
students are already there 5 minutes early with their books open working
vigorously. I come in, say hello, and give the teacher the bean cake. She seems
very uncomfortable to be speaking to me (obviously doesn’t know any English),
so I just thank her for her help and go blend into the back of the room.
The level and age are all over the spectrum, and she is letting students sit in
groups or alone as they wish. There are two low functioning sixth grade girls
sitting with a higher-level friend who is helping them. They are doing decimal
and fraction division. There are three high functioning fifth grade girls sitting
together working very intently, doing fraction equations. Long strings of fractions
are being added on both sides of the equal sign, with blanks in various places up
and down the equation. A fifth grade boy arrives late, and works on threedimensional geometry. Two fourth grade girls are sitting with a third grade boy
(possibly a brother) and occasionally helping him. A high functioning but
unmotivated fourth grader arrives late and sits alone. The fourth graders are
multiplying five digit numbers. A group of four high functioning third grade boys
sit together in the mid-table and keep busy, but occasionally make irreverent jokes
at the teacher (who ignores the jokes). One unmotivated third grade boy sits alone
and plays with his pencil, picks his nose, and stares out the window. The teacher
ignores him. Three high functioning third grade girls sit in different places, but
talk to each other from their respective positions. One of them eventually takes
the teacher’s seat at the front desk, and the teacher doesn’t stop her. The third
graders are doing three digit basic arithmetic, word problems utilizing the same
skill set, and long division.
There is no classroom lesson and this appears more of a group tutorial
session. Once the bell rings officially beginning the class time the teacher sternly
settles the room down and gets the students more focused on their work. She had
been correcting students’ homework with them at her desk before the start of the
period, and she finishes that task now. With students apparently moving forward
in their books, she goes around the room checking work and correcting errors. The
teacher does this by asking the students questions about the math problems until
they figure the answer out for themselves. With the older students she has a wry
sense of humor where she seems to be sternly interrogating them, but making them
laugh at the same time.
When she finishes going around the room, she allows time for students to
come up to her desk and ask her for help. When all the students who are
voluntarily coming up have finished working with her, she asks the rest of them to
come up individually and checks their understanding of the curriculum they are
working on. Once this phase is complete she roams around the room again
restarting the cycle, which repeats until the class period ends.
Korean (Literacy) After-school
The questionnaire states the lesson is about debating:
This is a debate class lesson. The debate topic is stationary stores, and if it
would be good for all the stationary stores around the school to disappear.
Talking about the reasons why the number of stationary stores has been
decreasing. (Korean literacy after-school teacher, questionnaire response,
April 6, 2013)
In response to differences between her class and a hokwan:
Different grades (from third to sixth) are in the same class. If I taught at a
hokwan I could use different worksheets for each grade. However, I think
the teaching methods in after-school programs and hokwans are the same. I
think it’s more possible to have lessons focus on individual students in the
public after-school class. (Korean literacy after-school teacher,
questionnaire response, April 6, 2013)
“Stationary stores” are stores that operate very near a school entrance, either in a
proper building space, or a portable “cart.” They sell school supplies, cheap toys,
and junk food. With the rise of large “marts” (which is kind of a cross between a
department store and a supermarket), the stationary stores have been going out of
This class is being held in a first-grade homeroom. I enter and give the
teacher her cake and she gives me a cup of tteokbokki, which is actually one of the
only Korean dishes I really can’t stand. I thank her enthusiastically and take my
tteokbokki. She is very hospitable and brings me a chair then a desk, and gives me
the three handouts for the class. One is a newsletter providing information about
the decline of stationary stores. The next appears to be a mostly blank page for the
students to take notes and brainstorm. The last one is a worksheet where the
students are instructed to take a side in a pro-con stationary store debate and write
their own arguments.
An animation is already playing, and I get the impression the class start
time has been changed due to the school “sports festival” tomorrow. I also get the
impression that the class size is a bit smaller than usual. The students are: two
third grade boys, three fourth grade boys (one of whom I’m familiar with and who
has a behavioral problem), two fourth grade girls, two fifth grade boys (one is also
in the math after-school class), two fifth grade girls, and two sixth grade boys.
The animation is an “after-school special” style program where a boy’s
friends convince him to steal from a stationary store whose owner is asleep.
However, the items in the store are magically animated and do various interactions
with the boy. The whole situation turns ugly when the proprietor wakes up and
catches the protagonist, and sicks his entire inventory upon the lad who
desperately tries to escape. It all turns out to be a dream, except for the part about
the annoyed proprietor. The cartoon concludes, and the teacher gives some
commentary about the morals of the story (presumably anti-stealing). The
behaviorally problematic student blurts out something that I don’t understand, and
the teacher rebukes him. She asks a few comprehension questions that I am able to
discern, such as “How many toy planes were chasing him?”
The impression I have of the teacher (who seemed a little stoic at first) is
she is cheerful and earthy. She is physically stout for a Korean woman but kind of
like a big, grounded square. The discussion she is having now with the students is
fast and lively, engaging most of the students. She asks a question directly to a
quiet student who is not participating, and he shrugs as a response. The discussion
turns to the main subject and she starts talking about stationary stores. The
behavior problem student blurts something (likely inane) again and she stops for a
moment and just stares at him, and then continues. She points out that stationary
stores used to be ubiquitous, and then does that skillful not-obvious leading thing
that good teachers can do. Many students suddenly realize and state, “Hey, they’re
gone now! Why?”
The energy is contagious, and I find myself smiling widely for the first time
at any of these observations. She has the students list all the kinds of things they
can find at the marts, and then gets them to compare the prices to the stationary
stores (which are more expensive). She singles out a boy (sixth grade) and rapid
fires several questions at him. He answers back just as quickly, and her body
language says to the room “Look at this guy! So clever!” She has them compare
the quality of the foods at each kind of store and how healthy they are, and then
tells them the foods sold at the stationary stores are made in China. A fourth grade
girl points out that the stationary store is open early in the morning and is next to
the school. The teacher responds that the nearest mart is only a fifteen-minute
walk from the school, which to me seems like a weak argument. Another student
makes a complaint about that mart (I can’t quite catch the nature of the problem),
and the teacher agrees.
The teacher changes the subject to the different marts in Busan, and the
differences between them. A lively comparison ensues about the differences in ice
cream at the respective venues, and all the students start chiming in at once. She
stops them and makes them speak one at a time. The class then discusses cultural
implications about how at Western style stores one cannot bargain for better prices,
versus Korean traditional merchants where bargaining for prices is common.
The teacher now wants the students to brainstorm about what they will
write for their debate position (for or against stationary stores), and assigns them
to write the first sentence in their debate essay. She has them present their opening
statements out loud, and corrects them on their grammar. One precious girl shouts
“Really?!” when she’s corrected on a mistake. I notice the boy who has been quiet
the whole lesson is writing his essay furiously during the presentations. The
students then work quietly on their essays, then after finishing them they bring
them up to turn them in and leave.
Western Teacher Interview Findings
Many of Don’s responses were consistent with the Korean teachers’
viewpoint, and provided valuable details and insight into the advantages the
hokwan format provides over public programs. Fundamentally, the curriculums of
public and private after-school programs do not have a lot of variance. In the
interest of quality control and consistency, many of the large national programs for
public after-school classes are outsourcing their after-school teachers and
materials from contracting companies. These companies do not deviate
significantly in their teaching approach from hokwans.
However, aside from curriculum many practical and cultural differences
come into play. First of all is time: at the participants’ school site the after-school
English program students attend three 40-minute classes a week, while hokwan
students’ classes could be expected to be about twice that long. The second point
he wished to make pertained to the issue of where the after-school programs are
located, which he considered the most important predictor of academic focus on
the part of the students. Clients attending after-school programs at their own
school are still in a kind of “comfort-zone” that does not lend itself to academic
seriousness and focus. To their perceptions they are with their friends, and not in a
“real class”. This gives the after-school classes a kind of social-recreational
ambiance, which the researcher also noticed when he did his observation of his
own school’s English after-school program. By contrast, the hokwans are at a
private location, and are likely to have students from various schools attending.
The client has left their comfort-zone and has come to the hokwan for a purpose,
which lends itself to a more academically focused ambiance.
The next point that came up coincided with the account the Korean Teacher
Focus Group gave, which points to the probability that parents who are paying for
private programs have higher levels of participation in (and are more critical of)
the programs and their children’s participation in them. In the interviewee’s
words: “The parents have more of an investment in [the private after-school
programs] so they pay closer attention to their performance.” (Don, telephone
interview, September, 2013)
This leads to a capability on the part of the hokwans to assign substantially
more homework than the public programs, because parents are supervising
whether or not their children are doing the work. This contributes even more to the
gap in time spent in academic activity between public and private students.
Addressing the question of the effectiveness of Korea’s allocation of
resources into educational welfare, the participant also brought up the issue that
even in the circumstance of lower-SES students using voucher programs to attend
hokwans instead of the after-school program at their school, they are still unlikely
to be getting the same quality educational experience as their more affluent
counterparts; affluent areas tend to have much higher quality hokwans. Not only
are they priced outside of what vouchers can compensate, but also density
competition plays a large role in the quality of the schools. High-SES areas have
more hokwans competing for the neighborhood’s patronage that motivates them to
provide higher levels of academic facilitation (e.g. more qualified teachers, better
materials), and put pressure on teachers to seek various methods with which to
raise their level of academic rigor.
In outlining his ideas for how lower-SES parents can academically support
their children the participant focused his suggestions on modeling interest in
academic areas and introducing their children to academic experiences that are
recreational. Centering on English, he felt that getting their children excited about
English based media (e.g., cartoons, games, books), and enjoying them together as
part of a routine was an excellent technique that didn’t require a high level of
English ability on the part of the parent. The participant agreed with this study’s
quantitative conceptualization of parental engagement relying heavily on whether
they go to academic places such as museums, libraries, and the English Global
Village, and noted that such places are free-to-moderately priced. In a similar
response to the Korean Teacher Focus Group, he would encourage parents to
educate themselves on the educational welfare programs that Korea has gone to
great expense to put in place.
In relation to their public after-school programs, Don would advise parents
to place their child in a program that is off-site from their own school. They could
either solicit to send their child to a different nearby school for supplemental
classes, or inquire as to whether their school district has a district-wide afterschool program that would place their child with students from diverse schools.
Also, using the local community center’s academic programs might provide the
same effect of taking the student out of a familiar social environment into a
program with a more academically focused ambiance.
This section consists of our interpretations of the quantitative data, and
discussions of our qualitative interviews and observations. This represents a final
conceptual operationalization of our codes: concern, participation, contribution,
ambiance, academic facilitation, and academic rigor. We will seek to pinpoint the
factors contributing to the Korean SES academic achievement gap, and begin to
formulate practical solutions. While we are seeking to reach a saturation level in
our research from a narrowly defined field of participants, we hope that this
overview will suffice to complete the reader’s understanding of the issues our
study is concerned with.
This is also a place where the researcher and Korean co-researcher’s
anecdotal knowledge and opinions can be expressed, and will be presented as
such. One of the challenges of doing a study of this nature is that some aspects of
Korean culture (and comparisons to the west) do not appear to be published in a
peer-reviewed format in English. We hope that this also serves as an asset to the
interest inspired by our work.
Interpretation of Correlational Data
(Scattershot Graphs)
The Public After-School Students group’s trends correlate toward improved
academic achievement with increased parental academic support (as support is
conceptualized in the questionnaire), but in this form of presentation the
correlation has weak predictive power. We can make a deduction from the
stronger correlation in the public group: for parents who cannot afford hokwans
the need for direct academic participation becomes a more significant element in
their children’s academic achievement than the private group (whose scores had
low or even negative correlational values).
Interpreting the finding for the private after-school group is more
problematic. There are a significant number of high achieving private after-school
students with low parental support scores, resulting in negative trends. So, what
exactly is happening here? Is parental support for these students hindering their
academic achievement? We will assume this is not the case, of course. In the
Parent Interviews, Teacher Focus Group, and Western Teacher Interview sections
of this study, we see a different picture emerging in regards to Korean
conceptualizations of academic parental support. Each of the Parent Case Study
participants felt that the academic achievement of their children was best left to
professional support, and most of their concern and participation was centered on
their after-school programs as opposed to the direct parental support
conceptualized in the survey. During the teacher interviews (with both the Korean
and Western teachers), an important finding was that parents who pay for private
after-school programs have a much higher level of participation with matters
pertaining to the programs; they talk to the teachers and monitor their child’s
performance (e.g., whether they are doing assigned homework from the program).
It is apparent from the data that these hokwan students’ academic achievement
isn’t suffering due to a lack of direct participation; their academic achievement is
being facilitated by their private programs and possibly by forms of parental
academic support that are not measured by the survey (e.g. increased concern and
supervisory participation for paid-for academic programs).
In summary, the analysis of our scattershot charts led to these
interpretations, which served primarily to inform our subsequent qualitative
research, coding, and analysis:
 We had established empirically that there is an achievement gap between
private and public after-school students, which also points to a
socioeconomic achievement gap.
 Direct academic participation is widely variable in our target population.
Many families practice a high level of this form of participation, but many
do not.
 Our conceptualization of parental academic support at this point was
incomplete. There was something going on in many high achieving families
that we did not measure in our questionnaire.
Interpretation of Low/High Parental
Support Groups and Categorical
This organization of data illustrates some of the conclusions that can be
drawn from the previous section’s analysis of scattershot graphs, with more
predictive power. Students who cannot afford to attend hokwans are far less likely
to be “at risk” as a result of higher parental academic support. In either the high or
low support groups, the probability of a private after-school student being “at risk”
is very low, likely due to a combination of factors relating to their after-school
programs and other characteristics of higher-SES families. However, in this
formulation of the data we can see the private after-school group deriving some
benefit from direct participation; the High Support/Private After-School group
shows a greater chance of participants scoring in the top category of achievement.
Interpretation of Categorical
Achievement in Relation to
Average Parent Scores
Using this model of data analysis we were able to establish a predictive
data trend through all groups, thus demonstrating a positive relationship between
direct parental support and academic achievement. The average level of parental
scores increased with each level of categorical achievement; thus the data indicate
that higher direct parental support is predictive of improved academic
achievement. Therefore, we can use this finding to advise that increasing direct
parental academic support can facilitate migration from lower to higher categories
of academic achievement.
Discussion of Parent Case Studies
Among all groups participation was a secondary consideration to the level
of contribution parents could provide for their children, primarily in the form
after-school programs. The fundamental manifestation of concern in parental
academic support at the elementary level revolved around determining the best
after-school programs (or tutors) available, at their respective levels of SES. While
the primary reasons for low and mid-SES parents to utilize public programs were
financial, there was also a degree of trust associated with public institutions.
The reader should note in regards to these findings that a three-person
sample is not reliable for making sweeping generalizations about the larger
population. While we assume commonalities (the sampling method was
theoretically intended to be representative of their respective SES groups) these
case studies should be seen as idiographic representations. For instance, Sukkyung and Min-yung’s occupational schedules make it problematic to make time
for direct participation (e.g., reading with them or helping with homework), thus
the low level of direct participation in these cases likely does not stem from their
personal conceptualization of parental support. From the quantitative data we
know that it is not uncommon for lower or mid-SES Korean families to engage in
higher levels of participation, and the data indicates a positive correlation with
academic achievement and a statistical reduction of risk. The reader should note
that all of the participants in the parent case studies defined academic achievement
in terms of scores on standardized tests, validating their utilization as the
dependent variable in the quantitative section of this study. We will also mention
here that in the quantitative questionnaire almost all of the student participants
defined academic achievement in terms of test scores or grades, with a few citing
English as a means of meeting foreigners locally or in travel.
The researcher was a bit surprised that the consensus among the
participants was that the college entrance testing system favored higher-SES
groups, but that this was not a problem and did not need to be changed. This
resulted in a cultural discussion between the researcher and Korean co-researcher
that we will share here. It could be argued that America is in many ways defined
by the schisms between our nation’s groups along lines that include class, race,
and geopolitical. Such animosities are often the result of generations of struggles
between these groups. Korea historically doesn’t have those kinds of schisms.
Reasons of racial and cultural homogeny aside, in the Confucian structure of their
society there are socioeconomic tiers; and this is perceived as a correct way for
things to be. Also there is the phenomenon of Korean jeong, which is best
described as “an openhearted and generous expression of love toward strangers”.
In essence, while the parents in the lower-SES groups admitted the college
entrance testing system was skewed in favor of the rich, they didn’t have any
problem with what they saw as the good fortune of other Koreans. Specific
examples of how this testing system favors higher-SES groups are presented in the
findings of the Teachers Focus Group in this study.
The primary concerns of the mid and low-SES participants concerning
educational policy did not fall under the parameters of this study. Suk-kyung and
Min-yung were more-or-less satisfied with the quality of their children’s regular
classroom and after-school education. However, their main source of anxiety for
their children’s long-term academic achievement and SES mobility was that they
would not be able to afford college tuition. We will address this issue in the
Policy Recommendations section.
The reader may note that there is no mention of the families’ fathers in the
findings of these case studies, but the subject was breached in the course of the
interviews. Korean men do not share responsibility equally for their children’s
academic life, due more to lack of time than lack of interest. If things seem to be
going well they trust their wife to handle the education side of the marriage.
Discussion of Teacher Focus Group
This interview added validity to our quantitative section’s conceptualization
of the variables of academic achievement and parental support, and to the
significance of the quantitative research question. In particular, the groupings of
student participants by levels of academic achievement in the second round of
quantitative analysis in this study (low, medium, and high based on respective test
scores of 71-80, 81-90, and 91-100) were consistent with how the focus group
participants did their own classroom groupings, which affected their lesson
planning. Also, the questionnaire’s measurement of direct parental support were
very similar to the participants’ own conceptualization of academic participation.
(These findings are not surprising, as a Korean public school teacher helped
design the questionnaire.) The teacher focus group felt that the quality of public
after-school programs was high enough, and that parental support was an
important enough for the two variables to positively affect academic achievement
in low-SES students. Thus, their conceptualizations of academic achievement and
parental support mirrored the way these variables were defined in the previous
research iterations of this study.
The participants were very positive about the quality of Korean public
after-school programs and educational welfare. However, there was one
significant finding towards understanding the achievement gap between public and
private after-school students. Parents who receive free assistance are generally
happy with the services because they are free, but are also reluctant to demand
results both from their children and the program. They do not monitor their child’s
attendance, speak to the teachers or the school about the program, or examine
whether the program was effective in increasing academic achievement. This lack
of concern and participation may be a primary factor in why public after-school
students have lower achievement levels than private students.
In regards to the participants’ conceptualization of “academic achievement,”
they did not differ significantly from the other stakeholders in defining
achievement by test scores. In the researcher’s personal experience one is
generally not going to receive idealized responses to questions like this from
Koreans, which is in contrast to more idealistic conceptualizations Western
teachers will often express (again, in the researcher’s own experience) while
defining academic achievement. Once passed through the ambiguous filter of
cultural disparity and translation Korean perspectives often come across as
utilitarian and pragmatic. However, the participants’ response does cement this
study’s definition of academic achievement as the one uniformly held by all
stakeholders. The participants’ alternate definition (“warm heartedness”) did not
reflect a redefinition of achievement by assessing knowledge, ability, or
intelligence by any alternate means. It was simply identifying a group of students
who contributed to a better classroom environment.
Students’ personal motivation and teachers’ expectations were other main
factors mentioned that could contribute to improved academic achievement for
low-SES students. These topics have been discussed at length in previous studies,
and are not the central focus of this one.
Discussion of After-School Program
English after-school program. This lesson had a great deal in common with
the kind of after-school English program the researcher would run, and probably
shared many similarities with a hokwan program. The lesson’s level of academic
rigor met the teacher’s goals, and her enthusiasm contributed to an engaging
ambience for the students. This ambiance was also facilitated by the fast pace; the
lesson changed direction often enough to keep the students interested. Jill’s
academic facilitation included an effective use of multimedia materials to
compensate for a lowered level of academic facilitation due to the lack of a native
English speaker.
The academic facilitation provided by the high quality textbooks
supplemented by multimedia materials contributed to the academic rigor of the
curriculum, especially in the respect that the books were challenging compared
with the regular classroom textbook. It should be noted, however, that the
students’ families paid for the books. There was one aspect of the bookwork timeperiod (and to some extent the entire class time) that did not occur to the
researcher during the observation, but after interviewing a Western native English
teacher was obvious in retrospect. While the students were technically well
behaved, the ambiance was more social than academically serious in nature; they
were focused on each other as much as they were the lesson.
A few other criticisms could be mentioned. The TPR was not coupled with
any direct cognitive link to the English (such as saying the animal while acting it
out) lowering the academic rigor of the exercise. Also, the researcher could give
Jill some good advice on game design for improved ambiance and academic rigor.
Our own model for English games centers on games of luck that use English
mechanics to move the game forward. This results in more students using English,
and students with less ability do not get humiliated. Jill’s model of making the
successful use of English in front of the class the game objective subjects the
players to harsh criticism from the other students, and discourages voluntary
participation from lower ability clients. It also discourages students from helping
and correcting each other in a compassionate manner.
Math after-school program. This was not so much a classroom lesson as a
tutorial center/workshop, where the small class size provided the academic
facilitation of attention to individual needs. In other respects the level of academic
facilitation was low: there were no supplemental materials, use of media or
manipulables, or organizational structure to the groups in the room (other than
groups the students chose to form). The teacher’s helpful and approachable
attitude contributed to an ambiance where students who were motivated could
improve their mastery of the school’s regular classes’ math curriculum. However,
there was no particular effort on the part of the teacher to create an environment
that might encourage non-motivated students.
A large issue with the ambiance and academic facilitation was the age
variability between the students, which prevented the facilitation of an
environment where an actual structured lesson could be planned. In this case the
“high volume” nature of student population at a hokwan where the entire class is at
the same age level might provide a more powerful learning experience for the
clients. While this after-school program met the goals stated by the teacher and
apparently contributed to most of the students’ academic achievement, the overall
level of academic rigor of the class was not high. There was no intervention for at
risk students, and nothing present in the class’s ambiance or academic facilitation
to push students significantly beyond their current level of ability. It is also
doubtful that there is significant parental concern associated with the outcomes of
this program. Therefore, it does not appear that this after-school program
contributes to the academic rigor of the students comparably with a private afterschool program that would provide focused lessons and supplemental materials
(including additional homework), not to mention the parental participation and
concern associated with paid programs.
Korean (literacy) after-school program. This was a fully engaging and
powerful learning experience for the students. The teacher’s energy and rapport
with the students created an ambiance that contributed to a successful orientation
about debating, which was the stated class objective. The academic facilitation
included use of video, handouts, and worksheets that made the presentation of the
of the class objectives motivational and easy to understand.
One example of the academic rigor inherent in the lesson was the
development of critical thinking skills, and an aspect of ambiance that contributed
to this was the teacher’s focus on providing enough direction to keep the
discussion focused while still keeping the lesson “student powered”. The students’
writing skills and mastery of grammar were publicly assessed in a non-threatening
way, and this lesson was obviously scaffolding to another lesson that would
further explore the writing and critical thinking themes. The teacher was very
competent in developing an academically rigorous after-school program that her
students could enjoy.
There is, however, the issue of the age variances in the class, which ranged
from third to sixth grade. The teacher’s talent circumvented this problem
admirably, but it leads the researcher to wonder if her talent might generate an
even better learning experience if she wasn’t required to work around this
limitation. The high age range in both the Korean and math classes highlight what
is likely to be a common problem in public after-school programs. In the
quantitative part of this study we found the number of students who substantially
attended public after-school programs at the school site was relatively low: 30% of
students attended an equal or majority of public programs versus private. Public
programs are often avoided because of a poverty stigma attached to them that may
result in a low volume of students, which make high variance age groupings
necessary (Kim, 2012). This leads to teachers having to plan their programs using
strategies to compensate for variable age range. While the Korean after-school
teacher did a great job of engaging the class, it is obvious that various age-specific
elements of literacy cannot be covered in this format (e.g., young adult literature
for sixth graders).
Discussion of Western Teacher
The issues of environmental familiarity and class time are the most
important new findings resulting from this interview, which will serve to shape
our policy suggestions. Don adamantly believed that having after-school
programs at the students’ own school site was the largest factor in the lack of
effectiveness of such programs compared with private programs. One possible
solution could be to move such programs to community centers or school district
centers. Another solution that would keep after-school programs on public school
sites would be to have students from different nearby schools attend a school’s
after-school classes. This “shuffle” could contribute to solving other problems as
well, such as the age variation observed in the Classroom Observations. All of the
fourth graders in an area could attend one school’s math program while other
schools could each do another grade, thus leading to classroom demographics that
are much more straightforward to plan supplemental curriculum for.
The Western teacher participant was the first to spotlight modeling as an
academic parenting strategy vital to low-SES households. In our Parent Case
Studies, the lower-SES parents felt that they had a limited ability to participate in
their children’s English programs due to their own lack of English ability.
However, Don’s suggestion that showing interest and enjoying media (and field
trips) incorporating English was a valuable contribution was demonstrative that
parents with lower educations have options for direct participation, which
according to our quantitative data can improve outcomes for public after-school
It was the finding of this study that Korean students who primarily attend
pubic after-school programs have lower academic achievement than students who
primarily attend private programs. However, a high level of direct parental
academic support can be instrumental in lowering the probability of lower income
students being “at risk,” as well as facilitate migration into upper categories of
achievement. However, it is not uncommon for Koran parents to downplay the
importance of direct academic support in comparison to the time, energy, and
money they invest into researching and providing their children’s after-school
programs. This prioritization may be valid to some extent for mid and high-SES
students who can afford expensive programs, but lower-SES parents should be
mindful of the benefits of personally mentoring their children’s academic success
if they wish to close the achievement gap with their more affluent counterparts.
Lower-SES parental attitudes in regards to their relationship to their
children’s after-school programs and teachers may need to be addressed if public
programs are to compete with private ones. While public programs are generally
considered to be of high quality (and the researcher’s own observations confirmed
this to some extent), lack of a monetary investment on the part of the parents
results in a lack of valuable parental supervision: i.e., because the programs are
free (or very inexpensive) parents are less inclined to demand results from the
programs and their children. They do not monitor their children’s attendance or
performance in the programs, and do not communicate with the teachers or the
schools. This indifference is negating a behavior characteristic present in higherSES families that is instrumental in making after-school programs effective. In
order to close the Korean socioeconomic achievement gap, low SES parents need
to not only spend more time doing academic activities with their children; they
need to be more proactive in regards to their involvement with after-school
programs and schools.
While public after-school programs are of high quality and do promote
academic achievement, there are discrepancies between them and private
programs contributing to the achievement gap that goes beyond the lack of
participation on the part of the parents. The class-time students spend in public
programs is generally much shorter, and there is a lower expectation in regards to
homework (mostly due to lack of parental supervision of public programs). There
are also issues associated with public programs’ arbitrary location at the clients’
own school site: the familiar environment removes a purposeful psychological
component of private programs (going to a location specifically to improve
academic achievement), and the social environment of going to after-school
programs with one’s friends lowers academic focus. Also, the low percentage of
students attending public after-school programs (relative to the overall population
of the school) leads to high variance age groupings in many classes, which makes
curriculum more limited and the difficulty level more problematic to calibrate.
By most accounts, Koreans (both teachers and parents) believe that the
Korean education system is fairly administered to students at all SES levels. The
competitive nature of Korean academic society sets the bar for achievement very
high, but it seems reasonable to say that all students have an opportunity to receive
a quality education. Educational welfare programs are readily available to those
who seek them, public schools in low-income areas have high quality facilities and
staff, and additional support for at risk students is provided both during the regular
school day and after school. While the standardized testing system that is used for
college admittance favors higher-SES students, most Koreans believe such testing
is a valid assessment of academic achievement and not an obstacle for any student
who has a high aptitude and works hard in school. However, the primary concern
of lower-SES parents is not whether or not their children’s academic achievement
will be high enough to attend college; they believe high tuitions are the main
obstacle to higher education and SES mobility.
Policy Recommendations
In our policy recommendations, we will assume Korea is allocating as
many of their resources into academic welfare as means permit. Therefore we will
avoid overtly costly suggestions that might be seen as “throwing money” at the
problems facing lower-SES students. For example, one of our findings was that
public after-school class times typically run about half the length of private
programs. However, one would surmise that a recommendation to double class
times (and cost) of public after-school programs may be viewed something the
system would obviously implement if they could afford it.
However, our research points to cost effective ways the existing system
could be modified that may greatly improve the effectiveness of Korean public
after-school programs. Two of our findings that sought origins of disparity
between public and private programs indicated a single source: students who
attend after-school classes at their own school take the classes less seriously than
students who go to a remote location to study, and the low percentage of student
populations in the public program leads to a very high age variance in a single
class. To remedy these problems we would suggest that urban schools pool their
classes in a given area; e.g. instead of a math workshop where grades from third to
sixth come to the same class, all the third grade after-school students from a four
school collective come to one school for their after-school math class, the fourth
grade students go to a different school, etc. In the researcher’s personal
experience after-school class sizes are sometimes too large (28+ students), but are
often on the small end of the spectrum (around 10 students). Schools acting as
class-hubs for neighboring schools could help put all classes at an optimal class
size (around 20 students), the act of going to a remote location to study could
improve the academic focus of many students, and mixing up the student
population could cut down on the social atmosphere noted in our findings, and
keep all of the students in the class the same age. Programs utilizing this model
have already been implemented in the past (e.g., Saturday class programs), and
transportation via parents or the public transportation system has apparently not
posed a significant problem.
There should be public relations campaign to encourage more direct
participation on the part of parents in their children’s academic lives, and afterschool programs should seek more contact with parents. This can be in the form of
sending flyers home, which is a standard practice in the Korean school system for
disseminating information. Using the schools’ websites for this kind of purpose is
also common practice and could be effective. One common method Korean
schools use to encourage parent involvement with the school is to have “open
classes” where the parents are invited to view a specially prepared lesson, and a
forum featuring the topics in our study could be conducted after the class. We
would suggest that after-school programs send home periodic notifications of their
child’s performance in the classes, and possibly assign end of the semester
assessments at the to keep parents aware of their child’s progress. We do not wish
to assign undo burden onto the teacher who run these programs, but brief
notifications could be conducive to better communication between parents, their
children, and schools.
However, these measures do not pose a significant change from the
methods schools are currently using. Our more proactive suggestion is a
requirement for public parents to attend a one-time workshop (i.e., a parent who
attended the workshop when enrolling their third grade child would not have to
repeat it in subsequent years) on how to get the most benefit out of their child’s
after-school programs. How this idea would be implemented and exactly what
such a workshop would cover could comprise an entire new action research
project, and beyond the scope of this study. (We will discuss this in
Recommendations for Further Research) However, pertaining to our findings we
would impress upon parents of public after-school programs that even though they
are paying a negligible amount of money, if they do not follow a similar behavior
pattern to parents to do pay for private after-school academies (e.g., monitoring
the programs and their child’s performance in them) they will have limited
effectiveness in improving their child’s academic achievement. The workshop
should also focus on benefits and strategies pertaining to direct parental academic
support; students who attend public programs still have a high proportion of “at
risk” cases at low levels of parental support, and high parental support is
predictive of high categorical achievement. Also, this could be a forum on exactly
what resources are available to the attendees in regards to bringing their child up
to a similar amount of class-time afforded to higher-SES after-school students.
Additional classes may be offered at a local community center, or there might be a
voucher program available for their child to attend an “all subject” hokwan to
supplement the class-time offered by the schools’ programs.
An important point to note is that the mid to lower-SES parents who were
interviewed weren’t displeased with the quality of education for their children so
much as the affordability of college. If one is to address the primary concern of
the stakeholders in policy it should be in the form of lower tuitions and more
scholarships for not only lower SES students, but middle class as well. The
educational system is functional and addresses academic achievement for lowerSES students, but this isn’t an effective means of improving class mobility if the
stakeholders cannot afford higher education.
Recommendations for Further Research
This study really represents a starting point for wider research, as our
narrow range of participants prevents most of our finding from being credible
enough to actually initiate a change in current policies. The quantitative research
in this study should be considered a prototype for a larger scale implementation of
the same idea, as we believe a much larger sample size (1,000+ participants)
would yield a result with much greater predictive power. A refinement of the
questionnaire would also be likely improve results, as well as possibly including a
questionnaire to parents to broaden the scope of conceptualization of parental
academic support.
While we did our best to be thorough in our qualitative research, many of
our findings are drawn from the account given by a single source. Broader
research on similar themes with parent participants could bring about findings that
could be considered more representative and less idiographic. Also, studies could
be made to verify the claims made by teacher participants; e.g. there could be an
entire experimental study to justify our recommendation to reorganize the public
after-school system that would encourage students to attend classes at a different
school than their own. Another experimental study could be made in regards to
parental supervisory participation in public after-school programs. Finally, one
element our study lacked was direct research relating to hokwans. Research that
seeks to build on our work would benefit from interviews of hokwan employees,
observations of private after-school programs, and more extensive observations of
public after-school programs.
In our Policy Recommendations we suggested a workshop for parents of
public after-school students. This would make an excellent action research project
for someone fluent in Korean and savvy at networking within Korean society.
This research would determine the best way to implement the requirement without
antagonizing the participants, and a detailed plan in regards to the content of the
workshops. Another facet of this research could be organizing social networks or
peer support groups of public after-school parents. A Korean after-school teacher
or foreign-born Korean (kyopo) working in the Korean school system might be a
good candidate for an action research project of this nature.
Bae, S.H., Kim, H., Lee, C.H., & Kim H.W. (2009). The relationship between
after-school program participation and demographic background. KEDI
Journal of Educational Policy, 6(2), 69-96.
Egan, T.M. (2006). Grounded Theory research and theory building. Advances in
Developing Human Resources, 4(3), 277-295.
Finlay, L. (2008). Introducing Phenomenological research. Journal of
Phenomenological Psychology, 34(6), 157-178.
Fisher, W.P., & Stenner, J. (2011). Integrating qualitative and quantitative
research approaches via the phenomenological method. International Journal
of Multiple Research Approaches, 5, 89-103.
Kim, J. ( 2012). Case study of the effects of Educational Welfare Priority Zone
Plan: Why are its effects not confirmed by standardized test forms? KEDI
Journal of Educational Policy, 9(1), 91-111.
Kim, S. S. (2008). The educational gaps among Korean elementary students: The
learning experience differences and their effect on math performance. KEDI
Journal of Educational Policy, 5(2), 3-21.
Kim, T.-Y. (2011). Korean elementary students’ English learning demotivation: a
comparative survey study. Asia Pacific Educational Review, 12, 1-11.
Lee, H.-Y. (2008). A study on the effects of education welfare action zone policy
in Korea. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 7, 35-45.
Lee, J., Heekeun, Y., & Choi, S., (2012). The influences if parental acceptance and
parental control on school adjustment and academic achievement for South
Korean children: the mediation role of self-regulation. Asia Pacific
Educational Review, 13, 227-23.
Merkin, R.S. (2009). Cross-cultural communication patterns - Korean and
American communication. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 20(4),
Midraj, J. & Midraj S. (2011). Parental involvement and grade four students'
English reading achievement. International Journal of Applied Educational
Studies, 12(1), 41-56
Mok K. H., Lawler J. & Hinsz S. B. (2009). Economic Shocks in Education:
Analysis of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and Lessons for Today. Global
Social Policy, 9(145), 1-30
Park, H. J., Byun, J., & Jo S. (2012). Do after-school programs matter? A
longitudinal study on the effectiveness of participating in after-school
programs in Korea. KEDI Journal of Educational Policy, 5(2), 3-27
Park, H. J., Byun, S., & Kim K.K. (2011). Parental involvement and student’s
cognitive outcomes in Korea: Focusing on private tutoring. Sociology of
Education, 84(1), 3-22
Park, S. J. & Ablemann, N. (2004). Class and cosmopolitan striving: Mother’s
management of English education in South Korea. Anthropological
Quarterly, 77, 645-672
Starks, H. & Trinidad S.H. (2007). Choose your method: A comparison of
Phenomenology, Discourse Analysis, and Grounded Theory. Qualitative
Health Research, 17, 1372-1382
Woo, M. S. (2010). Equity in educational resources at the school level in Korea.
Asia Pacific Educational Review, 11, 553-564
Yang, S. & Shin C. S. (2008). Parental attitudes towards education: What matters
for children’s well-being? Children and Youth Services Review, 30(11),
These are screenshots taken from the SurveyMonkey page where the survey was
administered. The original Korean is followed by an English translation.
Parent Interview Questions
1. How do you define academic achievement for your child?
2. What after-school academic programs does your child participate in?
3. How do you personally facilitate your child’s academic achievement?
4. What would be your advice to your friends on strategies to improve their
children’s performance at school? What kinds of incentives, activities, and
parental attitude do you recommend?
5. Do you think the system by which students are accepted to college is fair to
all Koreans, or does it unfairly favor any particular group?
6. The college entrance system is currently being reformed away from being
solely based on high stakes testing. What would your advice be as to the
best way to change the system to ensure fairness, and better reflect
authentic academic achievement?
Korean Teacher Interview Questions
1. Could you describe your methods of grouping students? How do you
conceptualize groups within the classroom?
2. What are the roles of motivation, efficacy, and intelligence in your
conceptualization? What do you think are the root causes of high or low
levels of these student characteristics?
3. How do your teaching strategies differ between these groups?
4. How effective are the Korean government’s academic welfare programs in
providing equal educational opportunities across different levels of socioeconomic status? Does providing these services result in equalization in
academic achievement across different levels of SES?
5. How do you personally define academic achievement? Is your definition
reflected in the standardized testing and benchmark testing required by the
6. What would be your advice to low-SES parents on the best strategies to
improve their children’s academic achievement?
Western Teacher Interview Questions
1. What are the main differences in the educational experiences of public and
private after-school students that may contribute to the academic
achievement gap between these groups?
2. Are there any other educational differences between socioeconomic groups
that would consider pertinent to the SES achievement gap?
3. How effective are the educational welfare measures taken by the Korean
public school system in closing the SES achievement gap?
4. What advice would you personally give to lower-SES parents in regards to
academic parenting strategies to promote their children’s academic
Observational Questionnaire
1. Please give a brief explanation of the lesson that will be observed. What
are your goals for the lesson?
2. What are the differences between your lesson and a lesson that might be
taught for a similar subject at a hokwan? It’s okay to make a guess.
Student Survey Parental Consent Form
(Korean followed by English translation)
설문조사 참여에 대한 동의서
안녕하십니까? 저는 데이비드 프레츄리입니다. 여러분의 자녀들이
재학중인*****초등학교의 원어민교사입니다. 저는 캘리포니아
주립대학교 대학원 석사 과정에 있으며 학위 취득를 위한 연구논문과
관련하여 부모님들의 협조를 구하고자 합니다. 본 연구는 학교 방과후
수업과 학부모들의 양육방식과 연관이 있으며 어떻게 학업성취에 영향을
미치는 지에 관한 것입니다.
본 연구에 여러분 자녀들의 설문조사결과가 포함되며 학업성적와 비교할
것입니다. 연구대상으로서 4학년이 가장 적합한 학년이기에 여러분의
자녀들을 대상으로 합니다.
여러분의 자녀들이 반드시 이 연구에 참가하지 않아도 됩니다. 참가 의사가
없으시면 이 동의서를 돌려보내지 않으시면 됩니다. 자녀들의 참여에
반대하지 않으시면 이 동의서를 학교로 보내주시기 바랍니다. 동의서를
보내주시는 것이 자녀들의 설문조사에 동의하시는 것입니다.
본 연구에 사용되는 자녀들의 설문응답과 학업성적은 보안이 철저히 유지
됩니다. 담임교사는 설문응답을 확인할 수 없으며 저는 설문응답과
학업성적이 누구의 것인지 알 수 없습니다. 어느 학교의 학생들인지 이
연구에서 전혀 드러나지 않습니다. 수집된 자료는 6 개월 후 논문이
완성됨에 따라 파기됩니다. 이 논문은 대학원과정 신입생들이 읽을 수도
있습니다. 이 연구는 연구학술지에 실릴 수도 있습니다. 여러분의 자녀들이
이 설문조사에 참여하는 것에 어떠한 위험요소도 없다고 확신합니다. 만약
여러분이 이 설문조사에 대해 어떠한 불만이 있거나 다른 정보를
원하신다면 저의 한국인 아내에게 전화(010-****-****)
또는메일(****@hanmail.net)로 문의하시면 됩니다.
또한 여러분 자녀들의 담임선생님께 연락을 하셔도 됩니다.
연구에 참여하시는 것에 동의 하시다면 뒷면에 있는 동의서에 사인을 해
주시기 바랍니다.
나 (
) 는(은) 데이비드 프레츄리의 연구논문에 나의
)가 (이) 참여하는 것에 동의합니다.
이 연구의 목적과 본질은 본문을 통해 설명되었습니다.
나는 설문자료가 연구논문에 쓰이는 것을 허락합니다.
나의 자녀는 어떠한 영향없이 설문 조사전이나 후 언제든지 연구에서 빠질
수 있다는 것을 알고 있습니다.
설문조사가 진행되는 2주안에 동의를 철외할 수 있으며 자료는 삭제될
것이라는 것을 알고 있습니다.
나는 나의 자녀들의 신분이 논문에서 익명으로 처리되는 것을 알고
있습니다. 나는 또한 담임교사와 데이비드 프레츄리 본인이 나의 자녀의
반번호로 설문조사에 답할 수 있도록 하는 것을 알고 있습니다.
Hello, this is David Pretre. I am your child’s native English Teacher at *****
Elementary School. As part of the requirements for a master’s degree in education
for California State University, I have to carry out a research study. The study is
concerned with parenting habits and after-school programs, and how they affect
academic achievement.
The study will involve your child taking a fifteen-minute survey, and I will match
the survey responses to their test scores. You have been asked because we think
fourth grade is the best age group at the school to study.
Your child does not have to take part in the study. If this form is not returned
we will assume that you do not wish to participate. There is no penalty for not
participating. If you have no problem with your child’s participation, please sign
the consent form and return it to the school. That will give us permission to have
your child complete the survey.
Your child’s participation in the study, the survey answers, and their test
scores will be kept confidential. Homeroom teachers will not have access to the
survey responses, and I will not be able to match up surveys or test scores with
your child’s identity. I will ensure that no clues to your child’s identity or school
will appear in the thesis. On completion of the thesis, the data we collect will be
retained for a further six months and then destroyed. The thesis may be read by
future students on the course.
I do not believe there is any risk to your child in taking this survey. We
designed the survey to not be invasive to your family’s privacy. If you have any
complaint after or if you wish any other information, you may speak to my Korean
wife at [cell phone #] or [email].
You may also contact your child’s homeroom teacher.
If you agree to take part in the study, please sign the consent form on the other
side of the page.
Consent Form
I ________agree to for my child _________ participate in David Pretre’s research
The purpose and nature of the study has been explained to me in writing.
I am participating voluntarily, and my child is participating voluntarily.
I give permission for the collected data to be used in the research results.
My child understands that he/she can withdraw from the study, without
repercussions, at any time, whether before it starts or while he/she is participating.
I understand that I can withdraw permission to use the data within two weeks of
the survey, in which case the data will be deleted.
I understand that anonymity will be ensured in the write-up by disguising my
child’s identity. I also understand that neither the homeroom teacher nor David
Pretre will be able to link survey responses with my child’s identity.
Parent Interview Consent Form
(Korean followed by English translation)
인터뷰 참여에 대한 동의서
안녕하십니까? 저는***** 초등학교의 원어민교사입니다. 저는 캘리포니아
주립대학교 대학원 석사 과정에 있으며 학위 취득를 위한 연구논문를 써야
합니다. 본 연구는 학교 방과후 수업과 학부모들의 양육방식과 연관이
있으며 어떻게 학업성취에 영향을 미치는 지에 관한 것입니다.
본 연구에는 여러분의 집 근처에서 진행되는 인터뷰가 포함됩니다.
여러분은 초등학생 자녀들 있으며 소득별로 분류된 각 그룹을 대표하는
인터뷰 대상자로 요청하고자 합니다.
반드시 이 연구에 참가하지 않아도 됩니다. 불참여에 대한 어떠한 불이익은
없습니다. 여러분이 본 동의서에 사인을 하게 되면 이 연구에 자발적으로
참가 한다는 것에 동의하는 것입니다.
여러분의 참여는 비밀로 유지됩니다. 여러분과 여러분의 자녀의 신분 혹은
자녀들의 학교이름은 이 논문에서 전혀 언급되지 않습니다.
여러분의 인터뷰 내용은 이 논문에 실릴 것입니다. 여러분과 여러분의
자녀의 신분 혹은 자녀들의 학교이름은 이 논문에서 전혀 언급되지 않음을
여러분의 인터뷰 내용은 이 논문에 실릴 것입니다. 수집된 자료는 6 개월 후
논문이 완성됨에 따라 파기됩니다. 이 논문은 대학원과정 신입생들이 읽을
수도 있습니다. 이 연구는 연구학술지에 실릴 수도 있습니다.
본 인터뷰에 참가하는 것에 대한 어떠한 이익이나 불이익도 없습니다.
인터뷰에 응해 주신 감사의 뜻으로 터뷰가 진행되는 장소에서 저희가
저녁을 대접하기를 바랍니다. 만약 여러분이 이 인터뷰에 대해 어떠한
불만이 있거나 다른 정보를 원하신다면 저의 한국인 아내에게 전화(010****-****) 또는메일(****@hanmail.net)로 문의하시면 됩니다.
본 연구에 참여하시는 것에 동의하신다면 뒷면에 있는 동의서에 사인을 해
주시기 바랍니다.
나 (
것에 동의 합니다.
)는(은) 데이비드 프레츄리의 연구논문에 참여하는
이 연구의 목적과 본질은 통신문을 통해 설명되었습니다.
나는 자발적으로 참여합니다.
데이비드 츠레츄리가 인터뷰 내용을 녹음하는 것을 허락합니다.
나는 어떠한 영향없이 인터뷰 전이나 진행중에 언제든지 빠질 수 있다는
것을 알고 있습니다.
인터뷰가 진행되는 2주안에 동의를 철회할 수 있으며 자료는 삭제될
것이라는 것을 알고 있습니다.
만약 아래와 같이 허락한다면 익명으로 된 인터뷰의 발췌 내용이 본
논문과 차후의 어떤 출판에서도 인용 될 수도 있다는 것을 알고 있습니다.
하나를 선택하세요.
나는 인터뷰 내용을 발췌한 것을 인용하거나 출판하는 것에
나는 인터뷰 내용을 발췌한 것을 인용하거나 출판하는 것에
동의하지 않습니다.
Hello, this is David Pretre. I am a native English Teacher at ***** Elementary
.As part of the requirements for a master’s degree in education for California State
University, I have to carry out a research study. The study is concerned with
parenting habits and after-school programs, and how they affect academic
The study will involve one interview with you near your home. You have been
asked because you have a child in elementary school and you represent a target
group of people (based on income) we wish to gather information about.
You do not have to take part in the study. There is no penalty to you for not
participating. You are signing a consent form to show that you give voluntary
permission to be in the study.
Your participation in the study will be kept confidential. I will ensure that no
clues to your identity or your child’s identity or the name of your child’s school
will appear in the thesis.
Your responses in the interview will be presented in a thesis. On completion of
the thesis, the data we collect will be retained for a further six months and then
destroyed. The thesis may be read by future students on the course. The study may
be published in a research journal.
There are no advantages or disadvantages to participating in this interview.
To compensate for your time we wish to buy dinner at the place we conduct the
If you have any complaint after or if you wish any other information, you may
speak to my Korean wife at [cell phone #] or [email].
If you agree to take part in the study, please sign the consent form on the other
side of the page.
Consent Form
I…………………agree to participate David Pretre’s research study.
The purpose and nature of the study has been explained to me in writing.
I am participating voluntarily.
I give permission for my interview with David Pretre to be tape-recorded.
I understand that I can withdraw from the study, without repercussions, at any
time, whether before it starts or while I am participating.
I understand that I can withdraw permission to use the data within two weeks of
the interview, in which case the material will be deleted.
I understand that anonymity will be ensured in the write-up by disguising my
I understand that anonymous extracts from my interview may be quoted in the
thesis and any subsequent publications if I give permission below:
(Please tick one box:)
I agree to quotation/publication of extracts from my interview
I do not agree to quotation/publication of extracts from my interview